Advent 2020: The Prophet’s Candle: HOPE
The prophet Isaiah points us towards honesty. And, when we are honest, we come to accept that even though we are forgiven before the Lord, we are still prone to sin.
(There have been some recent pastors who have suggested that we should not talk to Christians about sin because the work of Jesus cleanses us and we are not sinners, but saints. I think the scriptures repudiate that claim over and over again. The Good News of Jesus is Good News because we are forgiven and invited to participate with his Kingdom in spite of our weaknesses and sins.)
So, we confess. We confess so that we are healed. We confess to keep ourselves honest. There is nothing worse than self-delusion and the quickest way to seeing ourselves rightly is to admit our shortcomings.
Read Isaiah’s prayer:
5 You welcome those who gladly do good,Isaiah 64:5-7
who follow godly ways.
But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?
6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
7 Yet no one calls on your name
or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
and turned us over to our sins.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we must deal with personal sin and also corporate sin or idolatry:
Throughout the scriptures we are called to confess of our moral sinfulness. Listen, if you are sleeping with someone you aren’t married to, you need to repent. If you are watching porn, you must repent. If you are having an affair, you must repent. You’ll find the kindness of the Lord on the other side, but you will not find that God changes his mind about what is good and right and helpful for his creatures.
If you need help—please reach out. We are here to receive your confession and lead you to repentance…
Also, we are called to repent of false hopes. And false dreams that do not have God at the center. This list could be long, but if we are to be people of hope through the next season of our society, we must start by repenting of hopes that are placed in political parties and their worldviews. They are lifeless apart from the animating reality of Jesus as Lord. And since no political party—on their party platform page lists Jesus Christ as preeminent King—or even as an inspiration—they cannot supply our hopes going forward.
I hope that post-election you are becoming more and more convinced of the fallow soil of partisan hope. Our opinions about the formation and perpetuation of our society are important—but, more important is that we exalt Christ above all and refuse to fetter or attach Jesus to any particular political point of view.
These hopes are like “autumn leaves.” Frail. Blown away.
Stanley Hauerwas writes:
“It seems so hard to be truthful and to speak truthfully. But even though it can be hard, most of the time we can speak the truth because to so speak makes us joyful. God has given us a wonderful exercise for training in truthfulness. That exercise is called prayer. To learn to pray is to have our bodies formed by the truth and love that move the sun and the stars.”The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson
Confession of sin leads us to walk in the truth. It helps us to get to joy. Maybe this is why James can write:
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.James 5:16 (NLT)
If you need help with confession, the pastoral team is here for you. You can set up an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be glad to help you walk in the truth.
Make this prayer your own:
I confess to God Almighty, before the whole company of heaven, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed; in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, by my fault, by my fault, by my most grievous fault; wherefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life. Amen