Homily: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – June 28, 2020
Posted on June 30, 2020
What do we get for being a slave to sin? Paul asks this question to the Romans.
We should start by defining a little more about sin. We can refer to our handy, dandy Book of Common Prayer for a definition:
What is sin?
Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of
God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other
people, and with all creation.
This is what Paul is trying to communicate to the Romans. That when we pursue purely our own will, we are warping our relationships. With God, with other people, with all creation. Being children of Grace, we do not believe that we are slaves to sin. We don’t allow ourselves to be sometimes sinners or social sinners or after-dinner, casual sinners. We aren’t, as Paul puts it, instruments of wickedness. Being reborn through Christ means that while we may sin, we will never be – can never be – slaves to it. We cannot be shackled by it. Imprisoned by it. It cannot hold us back permanently.
The next question in the catechism in the BCP is this:
How does sin have power over us?
Sin has power over us because we lose our liberty when
our relationship with God is distorted.
When we sin, despite being children of Grace, we find ourselves once again feeling the phantom pain of our shackles that were once-upon-a-time inescapable. We don’t just lose our liberty, we give it up. And in doing so, we change our relationship with God. Because only in true relationship with God are we truly free. Free from worldly powers, free from the brokenness of this world, free from that which seeks to destroy God’s creation.
I bring up this long diatribe on the nature of sin is because we have a serious sin problem in this world. I mean, we are dealing with a lot sin problems at the moment. The sin of racism, the sin of selfishness, the sin of violence. But I think one of the more serious sins that we are facing, really and truly every day, is the sin of division.
We find ourselves with a little too much time on our hands to marvel at each new fresh hell our broken world throws at us. And with that time, we process. We talk. We argue and debate. We call upon experience and scripture and tradition and reason in order to help us process each new headline, each new development. This is good. This is healthy. The next road we are meant to take is one of discernment: What is God calling me to do? Where is God’s will? It might be to continue to fight, sure. But we’ve discerned God’s call. God’s involvement. When God is involved, we are presenting ourselves as instruments of righteousness, as Paul says.
But… sometimes we get stuck. We process. We talk. We argue and debate. We debate. And we argue. And argue. And argue. And suddenly that person that I don’t even really know on Facebook is the BIGGEST IDIOT and how can they not see reason and I can’t believe I’m still pounding on my keyboard at 1am and why is this person not getting it? Oh boy. The shackles of sin have clamped firmly around our hearts. In seeking our own will, we have trapped ourselves in the sin of division. Because sin doesn’t just change our relationship with God. It changes our relationship with other people.
What is redemption?
Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the
power of evil, sin, and death.
This is the Good News. There’s no reason for us to stay in this place. While we may feel trapped, the prison is only of our own making. God abolished those kinds of prisons in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Redemption, true redemption, already happened for us. We are free.
Remember that you are children on grace. You have and have always had true freedom. Don’t stop looking at the world around you. Don’t stop looking with a critical eye. For goodness sake, use your brain. Use reason. Use science and every other tool God has given you. Remember, you’re an Episcopalian. But don’t stop there. Use that brain to discern God’s will for you in this crazy world. Because there is one. We aren’t called to merely exist as the waves of crisis after crisis wash over us. We are not slaves to sin. We are called to be instruments of righteousness. We are children of grace.
– The Rev. Meghan Ryan
Trinity Episcopal Church