Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September 08, 2009 Pastor's Letter

“I have good news, and I have bad news. Which would you prefer to hear first?”

I always hate that question. Can’t we just forget about the bad news, just sweep it under the rug until another time? I also stress out when asked this question; maybe I should hear the good news first, so that it will lessen the blow of the bad news. Or maybe I should hear the good news last, which might make me feel better after hearing the bad news. But what if the bad news is SO bad that I can‘t stand to even comprehend the good news?! See what I mean? STRESS!

So, I have good news, and I have bad news. Which would you prefer to hear first?

I’m going to make that decision for you – because the good news I have to share depends on knowing the bad news.

Here’s the bad news. You may have heard it before, but here goes – we are sinners. Sometimes we don’t talk about this as much as we probably should, for fear of sounding too much like a church that only preaches “hell-fire and damnation,” but it’s important for us to remember and to identify.

Many of us might define sin differently, or might explain how sin came to be in the world in different ways. Scholars throughout history have argued over such explanations, sometimes which have caused significant splits in congregations. However, regardless of how exactly we define sin, or where we believe sin came from, one thing we can all agree upon is that it is present. Sin is present, we are sinful, and we commit sins. And no human being is immune to sin.

One of my favorite books called, Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms describes sin in this way. Theologically, people fail at being human the way God intends humans to be because of a condition known as sin. Also known as “fallenness,” “brokenness,” and “the human condition,” sin refers to the state of who we are, the condition that we are stuck in. The word sin is also used to describe the individual moments in which we all go about our failing. Because of sin (the condition of failing), we sin (we do things that make us fail). Confusing? Maybe a bit. But bottom line – there is sin in the world, and no human being is immune to it.

So what’s the good news?

Jesus. Jesus is the good news. Jesus is the good message. Jesus is the Gospel. Jesus, sent from God, Jesus as God, Jesus IS the Good News. In the midst of our failing, our fallenness, our brokenness, our human condition, and in our sinfulness, Jesus, God, has come to be with us, to share with us, and to save us. This is the Gospel – that “God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”

Again, we, especially as Disciples of Christ, may understand Jesus’ presence with us, Jesus’ death and resurrection, and eternal life in different ways, but the bottom line is that Jesus IS Good News. Jesus is the Gospel.

As we begin to study The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss, and always, let us remember; Dr. Seuss, the author of the book, Rev. Michael, myself, you, and many others – we may understand different versions of the Good News. We may have different understandings of Jesus’ presence with us, our salvation, we may understand these differently, but inherently Jesus IS Good News. But, “As member of the Christian Church, we confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world.” (Taken from the Preamble to the Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) www.disciples.org)

And despite any of our differences in understanding, we celebrate one another, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Not only that, we rejoice in new illustrations of that Good News. We celebrate new ways that we might understand God, and God’s gifts to us. Whether it’s a new series on The Gospel According to…, or a brother or sister in our congregation sharing this new illustration of God’s love, let us open our ears, our minds and our hearts, that we may hear anew the Good News!

In Hope…. Laura

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