No At the Crossroads

Sermon on the First Sunday in Lent 2017

by Jim Kane

Psalm 32:1-5, John 13:21-30

Which way do we go?

crossroads

On a journey, this question creates tension between husband and wives, children and parents, siblings, and friends as they attempt to find their way from one destination to another…even with GPS or Google maps…

 

It is the same for us on the journey of faith.

 

The question, what do we believe about…. Is a “which way do we go” question.

 

Jesus asked an important variation of this “which way do we go?” question when He began losing some followers because He made a very strong statement about the price needing to be paid to follow Him by drinking His blood and eating His body.

 

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.

It is found in John 6:54-56 and when many of His followers began to leave Him He turned to the twelve and asked them

 

“You do not want to leave too, do you?”

 

And Peter’s reply has echoed down through the centuries “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

 

Which way do we go?

 

During this season of Lent we are going to be spending time at the Crossroads as we take time with David, Judas, Pilate, Peter, and Jesus. Next Sunday Quinn will be giving the sermon and Kathy will be our worship leader. And we will be hearing from Pilate in some manner.

 

But this morning, we are going to spend time first with David who stood at the crossroad of confession and then with Judas Iscariot at the crossroads of betrayal.

 

Before we meet with David, let us hear from Psalm 32:1-5

 

Blessed is the one

whose transgressions are forgiven,

whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the one

whose sin the Lord does not count against them

and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,

my bones wasted away

through my groaning all day long.

For day and night

your hand was heavy on me;

my strength was sapped

as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you

and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess

my transgressions to the Lord.”

And you forgave

the guilt of my sin.

 

Let’s meet with David…

 

(A scripted conversation by Ted Schroder © 2016 and published by Creative Communications for the Parish was used.)

I serve a good God, but I am not always a good man. I tend to be full of myself. I tend to think I can take care of things, do it myself. I tend to believe the praises that my people cry out after me. I tend to turn my way.

 Turn?

 Those crossroads. You know what they are. Those choice points. Sometimes it is too easy to choose the path that seems to be calling, that seems convenient, that seems satisfying.

(from a scripted conversation by Ted Schroder © 2016 and published by Creative Communications for the Parish.)

 

I can identify with David, can you? I have had those moments, those crossroads, when my choices drove me away from God and into a place of sin and disobedience. And how painful and wrong they were.

 

But! Thank the Lord that I did not have to stay there. I could come back and get on the right path!  David did. Yes there were lasting consequences but through his confession and repentance there was another chance.

 

This season that is called Lent is not just a somber season. Yes, it is a season in which we can face ourselves and our sinfulness and choose to return to the road of salvation, the road of life and walk again with Christ.

 

We are going to face several crossroads in this series, next week it will be the crossroad of judgment.

 

Today it is the crossroads of confession and betrayal. David face the crossroad of confession and did the right thing:

 

I acknowledged my sin to you

    and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess

    my transgressions to the Lord.”

And you forgave

    the guilt of my sin.

 

What are you needing to confess today?

 

And then there is Judas…

 

Let’s meet him

 

I thought my sin was unforgiveable. I had betrayed the chosen one of God. I thought it was too late for me. But it is never too late—never too late to turn. If you learn anything from me, it should be this: No matter what the sin, no matter the terrible outcome of your choice, no matter how great the disaster, it is never too late. It is never too late to come to the cross, come to the broken Savior, come to the empty tomb and be made whole.

 

(from a scripted conversation by Ted Schroder © 2016 and published by Creative Communications for the Parish.)

 

Nearly 40 years ago now, a young woman, not much older than me, came to me and wanted to know what the unpardonable sin was. There was shame in her voice and while I do not remember our conversation, I do remember that the shame of doing something wrong was clearly in her voice and her face.

 

Shame is a great weapon of the devil. It keeps us, if we let it, from experiencing God’s forgiveness. It makes us feel that nothing, absolutely nothing, including God, can release us from it or the guilt that we need to address.

That is an absolute lie.

Have you ever betrayed God?

I have. And I not only betrayed God, I betrayed others and for a long time the shame and the shock of what I did kept me from experiencing God’s grace and forgiveness until I was finally able, though the help of the Holy Spirit, to rebuke that demonic voice of shame in Jesus’ name, confess the guilt that needed to be confessed, and allow the Holy Spirit to restore me and heal me in ways that I needed to keep from falling back into the shame that had enslaved me.

I believe that Jesus was heartbroken when Judas took his life. It was not His will nor the will of the Father that Judas’ life ended the way it did.

Are you enslaved to shame? Are you still being reminded by the whisper of the smelly breath of evil that you can’t break free? That you are still flawed and hopelessly trapped and that Jesus won’t forgive someone like you?

That.is.a.lie

 

In the power and name of Jesus, renounce it!

 

I can think of no better way to begin this Lenten season than to come face to face with our shame and our guilt and let Jesus have it.

 

We are in the Christian season called Lent which is a 40 day period prior to Easter in which we are encouraged to stop and do some very serious reflection and thinking on our relationship with the Lord.

 

What Jesus said in John 6, He also said during the last supper as noted in Luke 22:19-20

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

I think that I have quoted these wise words from Joan Chittister, just about every year for several years, this time of year.

Lent, requires me, as a Christian, to stop for a while, to reflect again on what is going on in me. I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ-and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me Lent is not a ritual. It is time given to think seriously about who Jesus is for us, to renew our faith from the inside out.

 

How is it with your soul today, church? How have you betrayed Jesus? Unrighteous anger? Lust? Fear? Greed?

 

I am taking this season of Lent very, very seriously this year. Deadly seriously.

 

I have to fight the demons of cynicism, impatience, and sarcasm like never before. They are ways that I have betrayed Jesus.

 

Having met with David and Judas, let us prepare ourselves for the Lord’s Supper with a realization and an acceptance that all of us are capable of, and have, betrayed Jesus and stand in need of confession that He gladly and willing responds to through the blood of Christ.

 

Amen

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