Mt. McKinley in Alaska, originally known as Denali, "the Great One." .... "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge..." (Ps. 61:2-3)

       "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus asked.  Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus answered, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! ... You are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church..."  Jesus then began to speak of the rough road ahead. And Peter took him aside and rebuked him... "Get behind me, Satan!" Jesus replied. "You are a stumbling block..."
                                                (Matthew 16:13-23)

May these words of this Peter be like a rock,
not a stumbling block!

"What it is and what it isn’t"

Message preached March 5, 2006
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

based upon  2 Samuel 11:1-12:24 and Psalm 51

Order of Worship

            This sermon introduces a Lenten series of messages on "the seven deadly sins," with this first one focused upon the sin of pride and the virtue of humility that is its flip side in the walk with Christ. Along the way of this message, to delivered in  "amble and ramble" fashion (without a manuscript), we'll talk about what sin is and what it isn't, what confession is and what it isn't, as well as what pride and humility really are and what they are not. About the latter, much is said today about having pride in yourself, and how not having enough pride in yourself can lead you into dangerous territory. Is it a sin, then, to think highly enough of yourself not to get caught up in destructive activity? Or is "deadly" pride a different thing? In similar fashion, does humility really mean putting yourself down, feeling worthless - without any value? Is not true humility something different? Likewise, is confession truly self-flagellation? All this goes back to the question of sin and what it is and what it isn't.

            A denominational devotional booklet for Lent this year makes use of the agricultural concept of a "fallow season," when we do not plant but rather allow the soil to be replenished. We will use this image as an entryway to look at sin and how it depletes the soil of our lives, until little is able to grow. The sin of pride gets in the way of growth. It creates a deadly zone where, eventually, nothing is able to sprout. Real confession is like the fallow time when God restores the nutrients we need. Humility is our God-given ability to receive what God richly provides - we no longer stand in the way.

            The main texts (in addition to others) for the day come from 2 Samuel and Psalm 51, and the story of King David "in the spring of the year when kings go to battle," how he was so large a figure in his own eyes that he could imagine doing anything his heart desired him to do, like taking another man's wife and eventually arranging this man's death. While this might sound more like some of the other "deadly sins" (and certainly there is much more at work here than one sin), the ground that he was trying to cultivate to start with involved his pride. David believed his own hype. Of course, God had other ideas. According to tradition, the 51st Psalm flows out of the re-centering of David that emerged out of this time.   

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


©2006 Peter L. Haynes
(you are welcome to borrow and, where / as appropriate, note the source - myself or those from whom I have knowingly borrowed.)

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