I was taking the service in our local rest home the other day, and as I spoke the words of the Confession, it struck me, as it had before, that it was a bit odd to urge these frail elderly folk to turn from their sins. After all, I didn’t think any of them had been out robbing banks, or murdering people. They were all too old to commit these sorts of sins. But after reading the Gospel from Mark 1 about John the Baptist, I saw repentance in a different way, and spoke to our people about what it can mean for them. Repentance means turning away. Turning away from the past, from hurts, from regrets, from things that hold us back from floating in God’s presence and His love. That’s what my elderly friends needed to hear – they weren’t being accused of being badly behaved, just invited in the confession time to let God shine the light into their hearts, into their consciences, and deal with the old hurts.
And do you know what was so gratifying after bringing this short message to the elderly people – they all seemed to be more at ease, more peaceful, after the service.
May you too embrace the message of repentance, not seeing it as a stick to beat you up, but rather a chance to place all the niggles and annoyances at the cross.
Sermon for Longview Rest Home, Tawa, Wellington, 31 January 2013.
(Luk 4:14) Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.(Luk 4:15) He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.(Luk 4:16) When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,(Luk 4:17) and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:(Luk 4:18) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,(Luk 4:19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”(Luk 4:20) And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.(Luk 4:21) Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
In this reading we hear about Jesus returning to his home town, having been working miracles in the surrounding countryside. Continue reading →