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good morning friends my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here that was a beautiful moment not just to watch you guys greet each other like you’d been doing it for you know the last two years but also it was impressive the way you just ignored everything aaron was saying I was like you’ve lost the room here my friend like these people are they’re just doing their own thing it’s like when we try and sing how great they are in a slightly different tempo and he goes like we’re not having it we’re doing it in our tempo people we’re just we’re just we’re going with what we know uh my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting we’re really glad you’re here if you’re watching online we would really love to connect with you uh we’re in a series where we’re talking about prayer what to say when you pray we have a couple of weeks left and at the end of the service we’re gonna come to this thing that in different times has been called the table has been called communion has been called mass has been called the word I would pick for today which is is eucharist it’s this idea of it is thanksgiving we come here particularly today as a celebration this series is founded on this idea uh Jesus earliest disciples came to him and while he was praying said lord teach us to pray lord teach us to pray they had seen something in Jesus that was compelling in terms of how he communicated with his father if you’ve had that feeling perhaps in any realm of life where you’ve seen someone who is like truly proficient at something and you say I would love you to teach me your ways I went skiing with a guy from south like early 50s and we were in one of the back bowls and and coming off one of the lifts he just dropped in off this corner so I’m like where’s the place for the guy with young kids the guy that wants his health and like he values his knees and stuff but but really part of me was like no teach me how you did that that was that was amazing like you just you just went for it this is what’s going on with Jesus and his earliest followers I phrased it for you like this last week show us something that works show us something that works these are people that are grown up praying and yet something that they see in Jesus is far more compelling than what they’re experiencing like we want some of that teach us your ways help us to pray and in response he gives them one opening one opening that was truly transformative one opening that was this idea that you can pray and begin that prayer with the word father that you can talk to God as someone you are in relationship with it’s not distant it’s far off it’s close and it’s intimate and then these three clauses or or statements about God the idea that God is holy separate that his name is special the idea that he has a kingdom he has a way that the universe should work and just maybe maybe this earth is the only place in the universe where that doesn’t happen the only place where his will is not lived out and it’s this prayer God could this earth look like it should if we followed your will could that come now could that be a reality for us could your kingdom come and your will be done these are like the three statements or clauses and then the three petitions which if we’re honest is probably where most of us start God this is the list of stuff that I need could you go about making that happen for me could you make sure I get the stuff that I want it it can push God somewhere into the the realm of santa claus at time but if we’re honestly that maybe is our starting point give us today our daily bread is what we looked at last week the idea that God actually sustains us and he gives us what we need to keep going and then today we get to move to the language of debt and debtor so I get to go straight for the jugular by asking you this question how is your conscience man it’s very spiritual if you came and you kind of like knew or you’re listening you’re kind of new to church I’m like that’s exactly the sort of question I knew these church people would ask me how is your consciousness or maybe I would phrase it like this uh do you have a guilty conscience do you have a guilty conscience I’m just going to let you sit and stew in that for a while maybe maybe you’ve got some emails that you haven’t replied to or something like that maybe the serm like mine a little detail that you didn’t take care of the other day I was working on our cars and by working on our cars I mean moving a car seat from one car to another which is like as far as I get with working with cars that’s my level of technical proficiency and after finally 10 minutes in getting this car seat moved I lifted my head up and saw two policemen just strolling towards me down the road and I had this moment where my first question if I’m honest was what has laura done that would warrant like did you do something I know it was you I even took a picture of these guys just sat outside my window with a big sharer’s vehicle and I I had genuinely this moment of like oh no like I don’t think I’ve done anything but they’re here they’re here for me and there’s some some sort of problem so I I did the thing where I was like is everything okay they were like yeah and then they went to my neighbor’s house and were gone for like 45 minutes and I still don’t know what happened I don’t know if it’s polite to ask or rude to ask I’m just stuck in this never-ending tension you know that feeling like it’s information that you can’t get on google and it to a group of people that are used to getting information whenever they want it’s deeply frustrating like I want to know there is this part to us right that that lurks under the surface that has I think for most of us some level of guilt it’s the reason that when we’re driving a police car pulls into the lane behind us we believe the lights are about to flash on and we believe that some this guy’s about to pull us over and everything’s about to go bad from there that was my experience to look at it through the eyes of pop culture it’s the idea that every one of us has these sort of voices that speak to us I picked the emperor’s new groove which my wife’s family can quote the whole of which is actually just really impressive uh and this is like the good crunk and the bad crunk and they dialogue with each other and there’s this at least acknowledgement that he’s not always what he should be sometimes is what he could be but there is at least some tension going on there there are things under the surface that we don’t necessarily talk about in polite conversations I gave you the sophisticated sort of image in in cronk uh let’s go to a base level we’ll go to shakespeare for like that like lowbrow idea stars hide your fires is what macbeth says let not light see my black and deep desires that I wink at the hand yet let that be what the eye fears when it is done to see stars hide your fires may these big burning balls of gas may they hide the light that shines on us because there’s parts of me that I don’t want everybody to see let not light see my black and deep desires there are different levels there that we’re talking about something beneath the service the surface that doesn’t feel quite right maybe you’ve never thought about guilt before maybe you just inherently don’t feel guilty maybe no one’s ever posed that question to you before but maybe under the surface there is this thing of yeah there are there are some things in my past in my life right now that that don’t feel quite right it doesn’t feel like everything is is really maybe the word is sympathical according to some modern thinkers this is just something you and I need to get over if you’re to ask like some of these great thinkers of our our time or the last couple of hundred years some of them would say just get rid of your guilt uh nietzsche would say that guilt is weakness it makes you weak get rid of it freud would say you’re simply neurotic you’re not able to maintain like a good level of thought you’re just all over the place get rid of your guilt and sartre would say it makes you inauthentic you’re pretending to be something that you’re not and and so these guys between them would say no you don’t need to feel guilty just just get on with life just allow yourself to to be free and yet it seems like in our culture so many people still hold this sense of guilt this is a reporter in the guardian newspaper I feel guilty about everything I haven’t called my mother yet today guilty and I really should have organized something special for my husband’s birthday guilty I gave the wrong kind of food to my child guilty I’ve been cutting corners at work lately guilty I skipped breakfast guilty I smacked instead double guilty guilty guilty guilty there is this sort of thing under the service that we may feel guilt for so many different things and then there’s the problem that sometimes we get caught in the middle of what you might call guilt and shame there’s the idea that we feel guilty for a specific action a specific thing that we’ve done and then shame might be more described as that general sense of unworthiness that I don’t quite fit or belong God doesn’t matter perhaps if we use religious language really own me he simply tolerates me I don’t generally feel like things sit well between us the writer louis smeads said this we feel guilty for what we do we feel shame for what we are a person feels guilt because he did something wrong a person feels shame because he is something wrong wherever you sit on those different things there is a sense that we often feel out of sync with either the universe or with the guard of the universe himself Jesus seemed to recognize this in people Jesus often took care of people’s physical needs we spent last week looking at the idea that he promised daily bread he often fed people in a crowd and it was sometimes the first thing he did he healed people and yet there were times where he did something spiritual as a first port of call while being aware of physical needs Jesus is deeply aware of the need for spiritual healing that is at the core of so much of so many of us some men came we’re told in mark chapter 2 bringing to him a paralyzed man carried by four of them since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the map the man was lying on when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man served your sins are forgiven to a man who couldn’t walk he said your sins are forgiven to a man who was probably a beggar because he couldn’t walk and needed perhaps food or daily bread he said your sins are forgiven Jesus is able to look at a person and say there is a deep spiritual need there somewhere and I’m going to meet that our father in heaven he taught his disciples to pray hallowed be your name your kingdom come you will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors so I’m going to do something I wouldn’t call it controversial I mean it’s just a tiny little point but I’m going to split this verse that that inherently and explicitly is one this passage this prayer talks about the need we have for forgiveness and how that’s tied to whether we are willing or able to forgive those around us but we’re going to cover that forgiving of others in a couple of weeks this week I just want us to focus just on that one line forgive us our debts and ask just what exactly did that mean what did it mean to Jesus first listeners when he said no you can pray forgiveness for forgiveness from sins debts and when it uses the language of debts we’re really in the territory of like accountancy or bookkeeping picture a sheet of paper where you get to mark where you are not doing well and where you are doing well and that’s the language that we’re talking about somewhere this prayer is let the sheep become blank again take off the bad marks accentuate the good marks keep me in right standing is maybe how you might voice this prayer and to a jewish person that probably raised a whole bunch of questions this is deuteronomy chapter five verse nine either lord your God I’m a jealous God we’re going old testament here for those of you that are catching up punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments how does the tone of that sound does it sound the same as a prayer for forgiveness of sins you might say that it sounds angry it might you might say that it takes sin very very seriously and he might say what does that mean for forgiveness is the forgiveness on those terms when you think about how seriously God takes sin it might be a question that came up to Jesus first listeners what do you mean pray forgive us our sins the movie hail caesar has this moment in it the coen brothers produced this movie and they have this dialogue between these different faith leaders they’re making a movie on the life of Jesus and they want to know does it cut mustard does it stand like up to outside scrutiny is the question that they ask so they bring in a protestant pastor a catholic priest and a jewish rabbi and an orthodox priest and in the midst of the dialogue the rabbi says will you understand you can’t show God on tv from a jewish point of view but as far as we’re concerned Jesus is not God so you can show him as much as you want and it leads to a debate does God have a family to which the rabbi replied no he’s a bachelor and he’s very very angry as well the pastor the protestant pastor replies no no no no you have to understand he used to be angry he’s not now and you see some of the tension between how you might read the old testament and the new testament is it simply that God was angry in the old testament and he’s not angry anymore in the new testament this prayer it marks almost this moment of transition where Jesus is starting to push to his followers there is a different way of communicating with God and the possibility of forgiveness real forgiveness is maybe it’s maybe more serious now than it was at this point in the story this deuteronomy story on one hand there’s this problem that sin is serious and does God just forgive sin but for a jewish person listening to Jesus there’s a second problem the problem is where does he forgive sin where does he where does the magi where does the thing itself happen this is the prayer that the solomon the king who built this jewish temple that you may have heard about this is the prayer he prays over that first temple keep your eyes open to this temple night and day this place of which you said my name will be honored there and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place listen from your home in heaven and when you hear forgive tied to this idea of temple was this idea of no that’s where you go to get your sins forgiven that’s where the reality of the relationship with God such as it is exists that’s the process you have to go through for these jewish people there were specific things that you did so that you might be forgiven and a specific place that you did those things in so when Jesus comes along and starts saying no pray simply forgive us our sins when he does that in relation to praying father in heaven and give us our daily bread and moves through the forgiveness of sins again it probably raised a chunk of questions you can see why a woman from samaria would ask him this question I can see that you’re a prophet our ancestors worshipped on this mountain but you jews claim that the place where we must worship is in jerusalem woman Jesus replied believe me a time is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in jerusalem she has been told by jewish people the thing happens in jerusalem it happens at the temple when you want to worship and when we hear worship we probably hear singing but to them they heard the whole system of how your sins might be forgiven and how you might engage with God she’s like it’s jerusalem right that’s what you say and he’s like no no no there’s this new thing coming where that can happen anywhere there are new possibilities emerging we call this good news we from our perspective call this grace to a person listening in the first century it’s one potentially heresy and it too probably raises more questions than we could possibly answer where does this happen they may have asked when does this happen how does this happen how can you Jesus say sins are forgiven what does that mean they may have asked what does mercy look like in your kingdom Jesus what does debt forgiveness look like in your economy what does forgiveness of sin looked like in your religion they lived in a graceless world and I would suggest we live in a graceless world too we know when we failed we know how others perceive us we know where we stack up in the system we have these accounts that we keep even if they’re just mental when we know that we’ve been wronged and we know when we’ve wronged others they lived in a graceless world and Jesus in the midst of that said forgiveness is possible and he would say the same to us I would suggest part of the thing I want to delve into a little bit for us today is this language of debts I think it’s good but I don’t know if it’s good enough when he says just about a blank slate does that really get to the depths of how Jesus describes grace and there’s a problem there because Jesus never uses the word grace never uses it but he describes it in story and so that’s what we’re going to do for a chunk of our time today we’re going to look at grace in story if you have a text in front of you you want to turn to it with me you can it’s luke 15 it’s verse 11. there was a man who had two sons the younger one said to his father father give me my share of the estate so he divided his property between them not long after that the younger got together and got together all he had set up for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living after he had spent everything there was a severe famine in that country and he began to be in need so he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to his fields to feed pigs he longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pig’s reading but no one gave him anything when he came to his senses he said how many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare and here I am starving to death I will set out and go back to my father and say to him father I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son make me like one of your hired servants so he got up and went to his father but while he was still a long way off his father saw him was filled with compassion for him he ran to his son threw his arms around him and kissed him the son said to him father I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son but the father said to his servants quick bring the best robe and put it on him put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet bring the fatted calf and kill it let’s have a feast and celebrate for this son of mine was dead and is alive again he was lost and is found so they began to celebrate let’s pray over that text and uh let’s see what it says to us God as we wrestle with this would you help me to articulate the story of your grace really well would you help us to capture it in our hearts even better you are good and gracious and we need to know that and we need to celebrate it amen so back to the top of the story Jesus continued there was a man who had two sons when trying to explain how good God is and what his love means what grace means Jesus it seems relies on a story this is one of the ones he tells the younger one said to his father father give me my share of the estate so he divided his property between them the youngest son says to his father something in a first century culture that he’s close to it’s really inconvenient that you’re still alive I I really wish you would go ahead and die because then I would be able to get hold of my property and short of you dying just give it to me now anyway that’s the harshness of this statement that’s the outlandishness of it this is a son who goes to his father and says your your life is inconvenient to me I want my property we in our culture probably understand a request for money from a son a daughter maybe even a grandchild maybe you’ve been through that journey that someone’s come to you and said could you help me out you have lots of resources I have none could you share with me what you have for this or that purpose that didn’t happen in this way in this culture the sun is granted his request his father unbelievably says okay yep I will split the inheritance and as a younger son he wouldn’t get as much as the older son but he’d probably get about a third of what would primarily be land then let’s see what he does with it so the father has apportioned his land not long after that the younger son got together all he had in this language essentially what we’re hearing is he sold the land again to a culture that land ownership was a big deal into to a culture where this land had probably been in the family for generation after generation possibly for 1500 years he sold the land my family back in england are just working out what to do with the house my grandmother left and she left it to multiple people and you have this moment right where you’re like a house doesn’t split multiple ways very easily how do you work those details out one of the ways you didn’t work it out in a first century culture was to sell it because the land was sacred and it belonged to the family so again two strikes for this son that were tracking with here and there he went off and he squandered his wealth in wild living another very unjewish thing he went to a different country lived with a different group of people and basically wasted all the resources he had everything about Jesus story tells you that this son is not to be sympathized with he is not the good guy in the story he is negative in the story and we get to see as he gets his just desserts he gets his comeuppance after he had spent everything there was a severe famine in the whole country and he began to be in need so he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to his fields to feed pigs again something that a jewish person would never do by choice pigs were unclean animals to associate with them was not acceptable so he’s in a distant country he spent all of his money on wild living he was bad that he sold the land in the first place and now here he is feeding himself we would love to feed himself on the stuff that the pigs have but no one has given him anything and to a jewish person listening they would say wait no one gave him anything because in jewish culture there was a definite idea I definite idea that when you saw someone in need you helped them with food you helped them with resources not so for these greeks this is a couple of quotes from around this time period first one is plato a poor man who was no longer able to work because of sickness should be left to die how about ploutus you do a beg a bad service by giving him food and drink you lose what you give and prolong his life for misery you prolong his life for misery this was an idea within the greek speaking world you didn’t help someone who was in need you didn’t help someone who’s starving just allow nature to take its course so to a jewish person listening to like wow he really is in a bad spot right he’s in a culture that doesn’t care about him that’s going to let him die and he’s done all of these terrible things and then everything hinges in this story on the next verse this is the moment where something significant is about to happen when he came to his senses there’s this moment where everything this is the low point things are going to start to get better at this point he said how many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare and here I am starving to death I will set out and go back to my father and say to him father I have sinned against heaven and against you I am no longer worthy to be called your son make me like one of your hired servants what is his best case scenario for what might happen his plan is to go back and say I’ve got the ledger I’ve got the list of debts I would like to to have some of that wiped out but I have no expectation of restored relationship it’s gone too far for that he wished his father was dead he took the family property and he sold it he went off and he did a whole bunch of wild living and now he’s living in a foreign country and he’s messing around with pigs taking care of them there is no redemption for this guy there is simply the hope that he will be able to eke out some kind of existence working like his father’s servants when he came to his senses and then there’s this moment where he says I will set out and go back to my father so he got up and went to his father so this is this moment of action he’s got this idea the action now takes place and I would suggest all of the things that we can learn from this hinge on one word that’s actually in the text and another word that doesn’t appear in the text though the word that’s in there is this it’s anastasia’s to rise up it’s the same word that the writers of Jesus biographies will use about his resurrection it’s like this guy is dead and he gets up off the ground he’s sat in amongst the dirt he is at his lowest point and this is this moment of action where he stands up and begins the journey home the word that’s not there might be this jewish word which is teshuva it simply means to return in this story everything changes in this one verse this is where he makes a decision and all of the action changes as well that was the low point from now on things are going to get better he knows his father is gracious he feels confident that he’ll be allowed to live out the rest of his life working hard manually but still having enough to eat he just doesn’t know how good the story will get it’s going to get better how good will it get is the question but while he was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him he ran to his son threw his arms around him and kissed him there’s a couple of cultural little nuances there that are important a landowner a rich wealthy person in that culture did not run anywhere not even for sons that were making their way back after a long absence you walked in a stately and steady pace so when you see run you’re like huh this is interesting he was filled with compassion for him that word has like almost like a guttural sense of like it’s like something moving inside you you just can’t resist you just can’t hold back and then I love this moment because the son has his speech planned right he’s got what he’s going to say he’s got it all worked out like I’m just going to ask just write off the debt let me come work for you don’t call me son I won’t call you father but at least I’ll I’ll get to keep living and so he begins his speech but but the speech is notably shorter than his planned speech earlier on he gets maybe halfway through it and it’s like the father says I’m not really interested in that like stop apologizing we’re done with your explanations we’re done with your story there is no good reason for me to take you back and yet I will anyway but the father said to his servants quick bring the best robe and put it on him put a ring on his finger this sense of like family belonging and sandals on his feet bring the fatted calf and kill it let’s have a feast and celebrate for this son of mine was dead and he’s alive again he was lost and he’s found so they began to celebrate there is this attachment of this idea of celebration to the return of the son can you see why I feel like Jesus language of forgive us at debts doesn’t quite get as much to the emotion of this story as we might like when we pray forgive us our debts this is what we’re talking about this story we’re talking about a God who who doesn’t stay still who runs who is desperate to welcome us home the van mumford and sons put this into song in this beautiful way it seems that all my bridges have been burned but you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works it’s not the long walk home that will change this heart but the welcome I receive with every start there’s that skip in the story right the sun gets up and begins his journey home we don’t see the length of that journey we don’t see the overthinking that might take place during that time we just see the welcome at the end and yet it’s the moment he gets up off the ground that determines whether he will be welcomed the father is always way already waiting it’s him that has a problem with his identity not his father his father is longing to welcome him home all of that information is just new information to him the writer philip yancy put this story into a modern parable based on a young girl who lives in traverse city in michigan and running away from home just because she gets sick of her parents and all of their rules she ends up down in detroit he takes detroit it’s like this negative place and I think detroit’s great I lived there for a while I love detroit but in his story it’s bad bad it’s the far distant country and so she goes off there and she gets involved in a whole bunch of lifestyle things that end up with her being sick unable to make rent living on the streets and there’s this moment for her same as with the sun where she says I’m just gonna try going home so she picks up the phone and gets simply the message on an answer phone and decides to go anyway and philip yancey just does this beautiful job capturing the distance and the way that she might overthink that decision as she makes this journey back to traverse city there’s one stop and then another stop and another stop and and this question should I have waited till I could get hold of them what if they were on vacation what if what if they just weren’t around and then finally there’s the moment where she gets back to the stop and she sits on the bus and says I’ve got 15 minutes to decide my life do I get off the bus or do I just keep going to canada and just find a different place to live apparently even in his story going to canada’s a bad idea she’d live in america not canada canada’s the place to be not the place to be this moment where she’s left sitting there and she’s like what do I do and as she climbs off the bus there is this moment where there’s a welcome banner hundreds of relations and a father steps out of the crowd and comes over to her and hugs her and she begins her explanation just like the sun does and he says simply there’s no time for explanations we’re not going there we’re not recounting every wrong thing you’ve done simply know that you are welcomed back and there is a party waiting for you at home there is a celebration to use the words from Jesus own parable it seems that in Jesus mind the prayer for your kingdom come is attached to these later petitions in Jesus kingdom in his world there is daily bread when there might not be in the normal world in his kingdom there is forgiveness when there might not be in a normal world and when we hear that when we live in a graceless society maybe we struggle to believe it I think that’s my question like if this story is as good and spectacular as it seems to be why do we struggle with this compelling narrative why do we struggle why is it that I struggle with guilt and shame from stuff in the past why is it that so many followers of Jesus that I meet struggle with that sense of guilt or that unworthiness that just seems to say there’s something missing something’s out of whack what gets in the way what stops that incredibly good story being as true as we would long it long for it to be for us and there’s a couple of things I think maybe I would suggest one is this I wonder if it’s a belief that we are more than we are I wonder if it’s a belief that we are more than we are let me unpack that a little bit what do I mean by that I think some of us when we look into our past the things that we would recognize as as failures sins whatever language you would choose to use I think sometimes we look back and we say I can’t believe I was that kind of person that wasn’t really me is maybe the language we’ll use oh there was a good reason for that yes it was wrong but you don’t understand what all of these other people did we start to color our language with all of these different senses of excuse I actually wonder if that’s a thing that gets in the way of the goodness of this story this is the writer frederica matthews green she says when we continue to be distraught over a forgiven sin of the past it is linked to our pride it’s that we can’t believe that we would ever do such a thing it doesn’t fit our sense of what kind of person we are yet it stares back at us reminding us that we did do it apparently we are the kind of person that would do that it seems somewhere to really get the goodness of the story involves looking back and saying no that that was me I I take ownership of that I did that thing I was that person Jesus pushes this sort of idea in some of his what you might call harsher passages this is matthew 5 22. you have heard that it was said to the ancients do not murder and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment but I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment again anyone who says to his brother raka will be subject to the sanhedrin but anyone who says you fool will be subject to the fire of hell this is this is harsh language right it pushes to us this idea it’s not just the action of murder it’s the emotion the passion that’s under the surface you may not act on it and yet still that very emotion that very thing is a problem when you hate the something that’s damaging you inside and he pushes us to acknowledge no I I’ve been there I may not have pulled out the knife I may not have pulled out the weapon but I’ve but I’ve been to that point of looking at another human being made in God’s image and say I wish you were dead I wish I could do these things to you I wish I could bring harm to you Jesus comes after us and says no you you at times are exactly that kind of person you can’t just push it off and say I’m not really like that you are you’ve been there it almost takes the acknowledgement of the position of this son that we’ve tracked in this story there’s this moment where it says he comes to his senses but when he comes to his senses he finds himself sitting at his lowest point he is sat in the dirt in the lowest place and I just wonder if to capture this story we don’t have to say something similar I don’t know if we don’t have to say no I am the one who sits in the dirt I am often the one that finds myself there I’m often the one that finds myself doing things that I don’t think I would usually do I wonder if it takes acknowledge acknowledging that that is part of us that is part of our story but I wonder if we also have the opposite problem too I wonder if it’s a belief that we are less than we are I wonder if it’s a belief that we are less than we are I’m always amazed by the way that paul addresses his letters to people in the new testament for those of you that know something about the new testament this church that he’s writing to in this town called corinth this church is a mess they’re doing some of the worst things they are not on the surface good people and yet look at the language that paul writes to them to the church of guarding currents to those sanctified in christ Jesus and called to be his holy people together with all of those everywhere who call on the name of our lord Jesus the lord and ours grace and peace to you from God our father and the lord Jesus christ and you read it you’re like those people they’re not sanctified they’re a mess they’re terrible and yet paul’s language to them he’s God sees you as good God sees you as whole God sees you as his redeemed and holy people I think one of the worst phrases that happened to the church was this phrase you’re a sinner saved by grace that is not in my mind what the new testament calls you if you’re a follower of Jesus what it says to you is this you’re a saint that is saved by grace God has transformed you he has moved you from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the son of his love there isn’t a sense that you are still what you once were there is a transformation that has taken place you are made perfect and whole and that is how good the good news is at that at our lowest point we were still loved by this God and in those moments where we sit in the dirt it seems like we are still loved by this God I wonder if this is our confession I am the one who sits in the dirt and I am loved by my father I am the one who sits in the dirt and I am loved by my father in my mid in the midst of my brokenness my failure in my journeys to the far country in my sitting amongst the pigs feeding them because I have nowhere else to go in the moment that I sit there at my lowest point I am still loved by my father when we hear the word confession I think what we often hear is this I’m gonna give you a list of all the ways that I’ve failed that is not what the word confession means quite simply the word confession means this it’s to say the same as it’s to come into agreement with it’s to stand in relationship with God and say that the actions that you see I say the same about them my place in the dirt I say the same as you about it but my status is your son I say the same about that too that is who I am my position may be where I am but but but but my position as your child that never changed in the midst of that dirt of that mess and my lowest point that was still the same I love the movie blood diamond for how it articulates the story there’s this moment where the young child dia has become a child soldier he’s gone into some of the worst situations and and become genuinely broken because of them and there’s this moment where his father threw out now navigates one of the other characters through this idea I’ve got to look for him I’m his father if I don’t look for him who else will look for him I have to I have to find him I’m dead otherwise I’m dead without him I’m going to go look for him anyway and there’s this moment where they meet at the end of the movie and and the the boy dia actually draws a gun on his father and points it at him and his father in this moment this incredibly poignant moment doesn’t react in any negative way he simply starts to tell his son who he really is simply starts to articulate what is true about him you are my son dia you are a good boy who loves football and school your mother waits for you cooking plantains over the oven the wild dog waits for you the one who listens to nobody but you and then finally these incredibly important words I am your father who loves you you will come home with me I will be your father and you will be my son I am your father who loves you what is the boy’s choice at that point he has one very simple choice he either believes the world’s narrative about him or he believes what his father says about him he believes the world’s narrative about him or he believes what his father says about it I would suggest that every day you and I have that exact same choice we believe what we’re told about ourselves or we believe what our father says about us you may find yourself sat in the dirt but I am your father who loves you everything hinges on that I don’t think nietzsche satra freud were right about guilt I don’t think we can just dismiss it and put it to the side I think the antidote to guilt is that father who loves us even when we sit in the dirt and when Jesus says pray forgive us our debts that is how good the story is it is a father who loves us even at our lowest point this is my brief little blurb summary forgive us our debts is a plea not that God would tear up the note of debt but he would mend the relationship and call me something more than a debtor it’s a prayer that he would continue to pick me up from the dirt and continue to journey with me even and perhaps especially when I’m the worst version of myself it is a confession that I am the one who sits in the dirt but that I am loved by my father we get to come to this table as aaron and the worship team come back to leaders and we get to celebrate that idea celebrate the idea that that love that story that is as good as it sounds is possible because of Jesus when he gathered with his earliest followers he gathered around a table in some ways like this and taking bread he broke it and said this is my body broken for you he took the cup and shared it with each of them saying this is my blood shed for the sins of the world when we come to this table today we come out of celebration we come knowing that the prayer forgive us our sins is possible because of what Jesus did but the story is even better than that even at your lowest moment this God said I am your father who loves you so I’m going to invite you to make a journey I’m going to invite you to walk as that son did I’m going to invite you to walk to this table and take the elements and take them back to your seat and as you walk maybe the the prayer for you is God I feel this weight of guilt would you lift that from me would you speak to me truth would you remind me who I am maybe there is a concrete thing that you know stands between you and God that sense of I’m doing this and it’s it’s not good it’s a mess and and this table is a table of forgiveness it is a table of grace it allows you to come and say God in my brokenness I I bring what I have which is myself and you get to know the redemption that Jesus put in place through his blood and through his body let’s pray together
and the night that he was betrayed Jesus gathered with his earliest followers taking the bread he passed it to each of them said this is my body broken for you in the same way he took the cup and sharing it with each said this is my blood shed for the sins of the world as long as you gather together do this in remembrance of me today Jesus we remember you we remember you that you are the God of covenant faithfulness and you do not forget for those of us that find ourselves a kid we’re in a distant country thank you that you love us
for those of us that need to come to our senses and return home would we do that
for those of us that need you to lift the weight of guilt that feels like it crushes us the sense of shame would you remind us who we are as aaron and the team lead us in worship feel free to come take the elements and take them back to your seat if you would like prayer there are people around that would love to pray with you as I said confession is this saying the same as perhaps you would love someone to come alongside you and pray with you and acknowledge with God that you are forgiven
thank you Jesus that you’re present here with us as we do this amen