Wednesday, May 10, 2006
5.14.06 Sermon Notes - Mother's Day
The text is from Luke 7:36-50 - the story of the woman who anoints Jesus' feet with tears and perfume.
Let's call her...Anita...
Anits is described as a sinful woman. The word sinful is a general word for sin, so it could be she was a prostitute, as many readers assume. It is just as likely that she was a thief, a liar, a troublemaker, a widowed beggar. The Pharisee's noted she was a sinner, and according to them, everybody but them were sinners, for noone could keep all the commandments of the laws like they could.
But Anita was a bona fide sinner, and apparently everyone knew it. Interesting...what qualifies these days as bona fide sinners? Christians are quick to point out sexual immorality, drunkeness, thievery, drug abuse, laziness as characteristics of bona fide sinners. But in this story Simon the Pharisee was labeled as one who was in need of forgiveness for his sins. It seems that the difference between Simon and Anita, as pointed out by Jesus, was that she was honest and clear about the many sins she was in need of being forgiven, where Simon was willfully blind or ignorant to those actions of his which were really sinful.
Simon didn't have a "past" like Anita, a past full of public moral failures. Simon, if he had become a Christian, would have been seeking forgiveness for his "heart" sins - arrogance, pride, selfishness, lust, envy, fear, etc. To say he was guilty of those things do not result in book publishers lining up for another juicy testimony. But Simon was just as far from Jesus as Anita, actually farther, because he didn't think he was in need of that much forgiveness.
This story is actually about Anita, but it helps a bit to compare her to Simon.
A comparison: Antia's sins were sins to survive- what she did was not for the pure pleasure of sin, she had to do what she had to do just to survive. If she had to sell her body to get shelter, steal to get a meal, lie to keep a job, she'd do it - she had to do anything just to survive, to make it from one day to the next.
Simon's sins were sins to thrive - what he did was based on what would get him ahead, what would keep him in power, what would make him more influential, more knowledgable, more wealthy, more respected. Simon didn't worry about getting by from day to day, Simon worried about how to get more of what he wanted, to add to his storehouse of what he already had.
Anita was guilty of sin, she knew it, everyone knew it. Anita wasn't alone...she had lots of "friends" and family just like her. In fact alot of people were just like her. She knew life was hard, it could be cruel, dangerous, exhausting, stressful, busy, lonely, unfair, mocking, scary, meaningless...and maybe that was it...life has been always like that for most people, and always will be...but why did she have to be so full of sin as well...it was enough to be burdened by the difficulties of life...did she also have to be burdened by sin?
And there was Jesus...not making overt promises of making life easy...or even easier...but he could do something about the sin...which had rewards of another kind, more profound, more real....
Anita was a bad girl...bad things had been done to her for a long time, and out of that she did bad things to others for a long time...she knew that she couldn't alwasy stop all the bad things that might happen to her...but she could do something about the bad things she did to others...was there a way to be free from what "badness" does to you? Was there a way to have peace amidst a turbulent, tiresome world? Was there anything to believe in? Yes...and in Jesus Anita found her answer. Anita found a man she could believe in, someone she could trust...some one who could make all things right...make things new.
As Anita stood at Jesus' feet, in the presence of the Redeemer, she sensed his power to set people free from the bondage of sin/badness, she sensed his power to transform a heart through love, she sensed his power of joy amidst deep suffering...she was ready to be set free from her sin/badness, and in Jesus she felt his power, and she trusted him as her way out.
Jesus offers a way to freedom for Anita's in every family, in every church. And every Anita is a reminder to every Simon that awareness and anguish of sin is the gateway to grace and gratitude. The more aware and anguished of your sin, the more grace you recievce from Jesus and hence the more gratitude you have, which is a sign that you have been set free.
Anita walked away from Jesus with a heart set free, even though her home and hometown was still embroiled by poverty, violence, injustice, chronic disease and hunger, underemployment and etc...but she was free...she believed...she had a future of peace no matter what the world did to her.