Monday, March 05, 2007

Lord have mercy

Isaiah 55:1-9

Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

(readings are changed from earlier in the week as the wrong ones were posted)

In this season we have something of a focus on the need for repentance
Oh, said my colleague, are you going to preach about sin again.
No, I said, I am going to preach about repentance.!
The subtlety may escape us but repentance is not only about sin.
Repentance is about lifestyle.
It is about how we choose to live our life,
and the way we choose to live our life is about more than saying sorry for the things we have stuffed up.
The Gospel reading reminds us of this:
First it breaks the connection that we often make between disaster and sin.
In modern terms we might ask: Do those who get blown up by terrorist bombers
get caught in that position because they have been particularly sinful?
Do those who suffer the consequences of earthquake do so because they have done something wrong?
The answer to these questions seems obvious to us when put like this.
These things happen!
There is not necessarily a particular cause or connexion.
BUT, says Jesus, that is not to say that we should therefore not care about how we live our life.
These events are not punishments
but they do help us to call to mind
that life is fragile
and that we need to live our life as though it might end today.
Bceause indeed it might!
The tragedy is not a punishment.
But the call to repentance is constant.
The call to repentance
And what exactly is that call?
We could suggest it has two parts:
a positive and a negative.
Paul reminds us that there are things we do wrong,
some of those (and I stress only some) are sexual immorality,
testing God...we might call that using the certainty of God's grace and forgiveness
as an excuse to sin....Ah well God will forgive us us any way
This is classically called the sin of presumption,
But there are many other things we know about too:
if we were to list sins that people commit
we could easily get a Top 10!
So Yes! repentance is about saying No to these things,
but it is more than this too!
It is saying No!, seeking forgiveness, and choosing to live life in a different way.
I am not only going to try and control my anger
I am also going to try and nurture patience!
I am not only going refrain from immorality
I am going to work towards developing faithfulness and maturity in my relationships.

We dig ourselves into difficult places
and we can start to die
or become unfruitful
The gardening image of the fig tree says this
certainly dig out the rubbish
but you also need to ruffle up the soil
add a bit of fertiliser
So our life of repentance is like that.
Certainly get rid of that rubbish
Confession, apology,seeking forgiveness, making amends
these are some of the things we might do
we need also to ruffle and fertilise
how do I deal with my anger, my greed, my tendency to be judgmental
my selfishness?
Can I think, pray, read discuss with friends how to attack these questions?
are there positive things I can do
that will enable deepening
a chance to be more fruitful.
My repentance will not just be about saying sorry
as important as that is
I need also to make decisions
about how I live my life.

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