Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dancing the Dance of Death

Sermon Preached on Sunday, June 13, Pentecost 3 and Proper 6C.

    Where do our children learn how to sin?  We have to teach them how to use the toilet, dress themselves, eat, walk... but who teaches them sin?  Don’t you find it interesting that we have to teach our children nearly everything but sin they know how to do from birth.  How does sin work?  Today we have our eye on how sin works by looking at David in the Old Testament lesson for today.  We see ourselves in his dance with death and it tells us something of how leads us in a dance of death until God comes to our rescue.  Today we see how David's dance with death tells us something about how sin works and how our only hope is the God who intervenes with forgiveness to restore us.
    Scripture tells us that desire gives birth to sin and sin give birth to death and death takes us down.  Period.  It sounds so cut and dried.  Is it?  Look at David and what happened to him.  It all started out with a walk on the rooftop to escape the heat and encounter a cool night breeze.  An innocent glance became a controlling lust, taking over David's heart.  It wouldn't let him go.
    It was a single sin that started it all but sin is fruitful and multiplies.  It was a single solitary sin that turned an innocent glance into a controlling lust that required more and more sins to cover its tracks, to explain it away, to keep up the appearance of righteousness, and to hide the fear and the shame of this mighty King over Israel and God's chosen leader.  Sins never come alone – they come in pairs and platoons and whole divisions.  That is what David learned and we find out too.
    A sin that began with an innocent glance and turned into a tower of sins trying to hide the first transgression turned into death and more death.  It was death to an innocent victim for the husband of Bathsheba and death to the cohorts whom David enlisted to carry out his evil and death to David, the trigger man for it all.  That is how sin works.  It sends death to the one who pulls the trigger as well as the target of it all.  That is still how sin works in us and through us.  
    Much as we would like to hide our little dance with death, just as David desired, only the painful exposure to the revealing light ends this tragic trail of tears, shame, and guilt.  What David needed and what we need is a prophet from God bold enough to speak to us an unpopular word.  We need someone who can address us and our guilt, drag it out of the shadows and into the Light of Christ where God can do something about this sin.  But we resist such exposure and in futility cling to the darkness and shadows.
    So God has placed His Spirit upon His Word so that Word cuts to the quick to expose our sin, to reveal our guilt, and to point to the death that results from it all.  Only the Word powered by the Spirit can cut out the death that walks inside of us because of sin.  It works like the scalpel in a surgeon's hand to divide truth from error that sin's death may be transformed to life through the Gospel.  This Word of God empowers our repentance and forgives us our sins – no matter how great – and restores us from our fall – no matter how far.
    The Law of God is this scalpel cutting away what is dead and the Gospel is the healing medicine God pours into our death to cleanse sin's wound and heal it without a scar to mark its place.  If only we see how sin works, then we can see how the Law and the Gospel work hand in hand to end this dance of death, to end this fear and shame, and to restore us to life and hope again.
    We saw it in David.  We see it in ourselves.  David was loathe to admit what he knew in his heart of hearts.  He paraded an appearance of righteousness as the compassionate King who took this poor, widowed mother into his own home.  David did not want to admit the truth.  Neither do we.  It is the work of God alone to coax us from the arms of sin and evil that we might see clearly the face of its death... and coax us into the arms of light and life where sin is exposed, cut out, and the healing balm of the Gospel poured in.  That is why we are here week after week.  We have danced with the devil and been marked with his death and now we come to be made clean again, to let the Light of Christ shine in sin's darkness, exposing, cleansing, and healing, and finally to set us upright again as the children of God by baptism and faith.
    In the Gospel lesson for today Jesus demonstrates this healing power of forgiveness to answer sin when a woman with a past anoints His feet.  Her sinful life was well known and yet Jesus recognizes the repentance in her actions and the faith that led her there.  He does not point His finger in judgement but opens His arms to embrace her with forgiveness.  Some were offended that someone with a well known past could get so close to Jesus but Jesus insists that this is His mission and purpose.  To end our dance with death and teach us the dance of life.
    The old saying reminds us that you need to leave the dance with the one who brung ya... true everywhere but here.  Sin brought you to this dance of death but Christ has intervened so that you can go home with Him.  That is the redemptive power of the Gospel.
    God shows us how sin works... how the Word works... how the Law works... and how the Gospel works... to bring to our need Jesus Christ and His redemptive grace.  And that is why we are here.... to hear the Word of life, to feast upon the bread of heaven, to drink the cup of salvation, and to be made whole and new again as once we were when baptism first claimed us.... and by His grace, can begin to fulfill the promise of that new life given to you in your baptism.  We see how sin works.  Christ shows us how grace works.  Amen and Amen.

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