Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36
I have come to think of Reformation Sunday as our annual Mission Festival. As we recall that on October 31, 1517, the scholarly monk, pastor, and professor posted 95 theses statements that he wanted to debate in a scholarly format in Wittenberg, he was trying to get to the heart of what the church is really about. He questioned the church practice at that time of selling Indulgences. In the 16th century, it was a crass act of allowing people to purchase forgiveness for their sins regardless of a repentant heart.
The business of the church had become a business transaction that placed the dispensation and acquisition of grace solely in the hands of human effort.
Through the 499 years since that day, Reformation Sunday serves to remind the church of its central task. We are to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Using the language of the gospel of John, we come before God acknowledging that we are slaves to sin. As we say in our confession, "we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves." Sin manifests itself in our lives and relationships in a wide variety of ways. One way of categorizing sins is through the traditional seven deadly sins:
7 Deadly Sins List:
Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink
Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires
Pride = excessive view of one's self without regard to others.
Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents
Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person
Should we react negatively to such an assertion and declare that we are not enslaved or in bondage to sin, please understand that your argument is not going to get you very far with God. Jesus' conversation partners in the Gospel of John certainly didn't get very far in their protests.
Jesus enters our midst to save us from ourselves. He is the only one who can because he is the Son of God. He says to us, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."
Only the Son makes us free of the lasting effects of our sin. The Son, Jesus, enters the passion of the cross and dies for our sakes. He takes upon himself our sins. On account of the cross, our heavenly Father extends to us forgiveness instead of the wrath we so richly deserve.
Only the Son can free us from the tyranny of sin. Only the Son can bring the reconciliation necessary between us and our heavenly Father. Only the Son can bring about reconciliation between peoples. We cannot effect our own salvation.
Our mission in the world is to share this good news with those around us. The Son of God is Jesus. He is crucified and risen for our sakes.
All God's people say...Amen.
(The seven deadly sins and explanation may be found at http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/what-are-seven-deadly-sins#sins-list )