Thought for the week, 17th February; miserable sinners

I finished my sermon for this coming Sunday a few days ago. It will be the first Sunday in Lent, the time when Christians are called to be especially disciplined in their spiritual life, to prepare for Easter. And the sermon does include some stirring words on this topic. Then I heard “Thought for the Day” this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. The speaker talked about what she called “that unfashionable topic” of sin. And I realised I had forgotten something in my sermon… The word “sin” often has negative associations; of a vengeful God, taking our his anger on us; in some presentations, killing his own son to satisfy his own wrath and indignation. Particularly those like myself who would consider ourselves to be liberal Christians find it much easier to talk about God’s unconditional love. There is however a danger in this, that we ignore part of who we really are and our need to change. Each day we are all faced with moral choices with our words and actions; if I am honest, by this evening I will probably have said something, however briefly, that I will regret. I can pretty well guarantee I will have had some ungracious thoughts about individuals. Hopefully there will be no great consequences as a result of any of these, not least because the people I may speak harshly to, or think of badly, will probably have done the same themselves, if not to me then to someone else. At its heart, sin is about our own inevitable failings. Lent is an opportunity to think about the big questions of existence and that includes are own inability to act and think as we know we should. Sadly, this is one of things that binds us all together; it is part of our common humanity. I am called to be honest about myself, but my faith as a Christian is that, with the help of God, I can daily work to change who I am and be forgiven.