of Papua New Guinea
Diocese of Port Moresby
This week we will be looking at the old problem of sin, what it is, what it does to us and then how we can go about sorting out the mess it makes of our lives. At the end there is a service of reconciliation designed to be used in families. It is no good talking about forgiveness if we do not take some concrete action. Shalom!
The best way to think about sin is to see it the way the Bible sees it. One of the common words for sin means "to miss the mark". This is helpful because it covers the two important sides of sin. The first one is: Things that break the commandments. These are clear and are things we do wrong, wrong actions. The second one is harder because it means when we fail to be the kinds of person we know we should be and fail to do the kinds of things we are supposed to be doing. These are failures to act. We have to understand that God has told us the way we should be living. That is our target, the goal we aim at. Our lives are to be lived out reaching that target.
WE HAVE ALL SINNED
THE TORAH - THE LAW
The Hebrew word we translate to mean "Law" really has a much wider meaning. It also means "teaching" and this is a much better way of understanding those law sections of the Bible. If you read through Exodus 20:1, the story of the Ten Commandments you will see that the section begins with God telling the people that "I am Yahweh, the God who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves". That is the important part of the whole section. What God is trying to tell the people is that he is truly God, a faithful God, a God who has done many things for them. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and now he is leading them to the Promised Land (that is what he means when he says "I Am" which is the name he gave to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3).
God is saying to them that he is a God who helps them, who calls them, protects them, frees them from slavery and leads them to life. This is what he is now going to do - give them what they need to not only be faithful, but to live in Peace in the land he is going to give them. What follows are not so much laws but teachings. He is teaching them how to live so that they will live with Him in their midst. He is teaching them to live so that they are open at all times to his blessings. He is teaching them how they should speak and act and live in their communities so that they are fully alive and filled with his love.
The message is simple: God is our loving God and he wants us to live in a special way. To live any other way is to bring pain and trouble down into our lives. We were created to live in this way and we can only truly be at peace when we are faithful. Sin is when we fail in this calling.
we have sinned against you and each other,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word and deed
and in the good things we have not done.
from the Mass
Jesus also taught his disciples in parables and these stories provide us with clear directions on how we should be living as disciples. As we think about sin, we can look at some of these parables and see whether they are a mirror of our lives or whether we are living in a very different way. The little chart below shows just some of the parables and may help us in our reflection:
|Matt 13:1-9||To have the Kingdom we will need to give some things up.||Will we remove them?|
|Matt 13:34||To have the Kingdom we will need to give some things up.||Will we give them up?|
|Matt 18:21-35||We have to be people who forgive all of the wrongs of others.||Do we forgive others?|
|Matt 25:14-30||God gives every baptized Anglican gifts to be used in the Kingdom.||Do we use those gifts?|
|Matt 25:31-46||God demands that we go out to the needy and show our love.||Are we active in love?|
|A disciple must be:||
|Totally dependant on God for everything||...../10||A person who looks to God for comfort||...../10|
|Someone who is humble and not proud.||...../10||Someone who does what God asks of them||...../10|
|A person who is merciful to others||...../10||Someone who is pure in heart||...../10|
|Someone who suffers because of their faith||...../10||A person bringing salt to the earth||...../10|
|A person bringing light to people's lives||...../10||Someone who keeps all of the commandments||...../10|
|Someone who does not abuse other people.||...../10||A person who offers forgiveness.||...../10|
|A person who works at reconciliation||...../10||Someone without lust in their hearts.||...../10|
|Someone who is faithful to their husband/wife.||...../10||A person who keeps their promises.||...../10|
|A person who does not look for revenge.||...../10||Someone who is generous.||...../10|
|Someone who is generous.||...../10||Someone who loves their enemies.||...../10|
|Someone who is perfect in God's eyes.||...../10||A person who shares their resources with the needy.||...../10|
|A person of daily prayer||...../10||A person who fasts.||...../10|
|Someone who serves God as his only master.||...../10||Someone who has complete trust in God's care.||...../10|
|Someone who seeks first the Kingdom of God.||...../10||A person who never judges another person.||...../10|
|A person who takes their worries and needs to God.||...../10||A person of prayer: praise, thanks, sorry,asking.||...../10|
|A person who puts the gospel into action.||...../10||Someone who bears good fruit.||...../10|
Being a disciple of Jesus really means living out inoru lives certain things and not doing other things. Being a Chrsitian is not about ideas, it is about action. When we fail to do the things God expects us to be doing, and when we continue to do the things he does not want us to do, we are failing to meet the goal of what a disciple is. We sin and are in need of forgivenss and reconciliation. Then we need to be doing something about changing. NOW!!
The simple answer is that we can't! We cannot stop ourselves from sinning. We are weak. We are only human and the desire to sin is so strong. But we are not lost and without all hope. We can stop sinning by using the graces of God within us. We cannot resist temptation - but God can. Jesus showed us that in the desert before he started his ministry (Mathew 4:1-11). Jesus also showed us that he can beat Satan and destroy his power. He showed us that in the resurrection, where the grave could not hold him down. He also taught that message elsewhere Mark 3:23-27 and John 12:31). We cannot overcome Satan, but Jesus has already done exactly that and will continue to do it for us. The question is: "Will we let Jesus into our lives to fight that fight for us?" The Second question is: "How do we do that?" The answer to those things will also show us how to be disciples. The closer we are to God the more we can use his power.
SO, to answer our question on how do we stop sinning..... We become holier! That is, we come closer to God: through prayer, through the scriptures, through our involvement in the Church, through living out the Gospel in our communities. We have to be positive. It is no use hoping to avoid all sin. What we have to do is move in the other direction. Go out of our way to do the things that God asks us to do, and put into our lives the things that he wants to see there. Then, we will find that sin has no place. With God at the centre, our lives will run smoothly with his Peace.
Heavenly Father, merciful God,
we come before you as men and women whose lives are stained by sin. We ask that as we celebrate the victory over Satan
won for us by Jesus in his death and resurrection,
we can be shown the graces we need to share in his new life.
Help us to repent of our sins,
to turn away from sinful living;
to forgive the sins of others;
to live lives of faithful discipleship
and to be worthy of the name Christian.
Strengthen us so that we can take the first steps to be reconciled with others
and to share you Peace and Love with those we meet.
We pray in Jesus Name.
FAMILY SERVICE OF RECONCILIATION
The family should gather together in a suitable place. You will also need a cross somewhere in the centre. If the family does not have one, a rough one can be made out of wood or branches or have the children draw a poster. The service should begin with singing some choruses together. Before the service begins, all those taking part should spend some time (days?) thinking about their lives and their failures to love. They can write these down privately on a piece of paper and bring them to the service. A bowl or container (one that can be used for burning paper) should be prepared and placed in the centre of the gathering.
Leader:We begin our celebration of reconciliation in God's name:
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We gather together in the name of Jesus our Saviour,
who died that might be free from sin
and live in his Kingdom of Peace and Joy.
We know how we should be living and what we should be doing
but so often we sin and fall short of the mark he has set.
Let us open our hearts this evening that we may hear God speaking clearly to us,
calling us to repent and to be healed.
Reading 1: Matthew 5:21-24
(followed by a short time of silent reflection)
Short sharing on what the message of the text means to individuals. How it moves them:
Confession: (briefly pause after calling each of the sins)
Leader:Father for out times of anger and hatred we ask forgiveness. Lord have mercy.
All:Lord have mercy.Leader:
Lord our God, for hurting other people by things we have said and done, we ask your forgiveness. Christ have mercy.
All:Christ have mercy.
Leader:Pause between calling each of the sins - where the dots are.
Almighty God, for the times we have not been faithful and loving in our family.
For our failures in faithfulness....
for our failures in sharing.....
for our failures in respecting...
for our failures in listening and spending time with our family...
for all acts of anger and violence towards family members....
for our laziness and for the times we have not helped carry the burdens of family life
we ask your forgiveness.
Lord have mercy.
All:Lord have mercy.
Leader:May Almighty God have mercy on this family. Forgive all of the sins that we have committed towards each other and against the whole family. May he fill us with the strength and grace we need to grow together in love and share that love with others. Filled with faith in his loving kindness we pray in Jesus name.
1 Corinthians 13 (Pause for a short moment to reflect on the text)
Short sharing on the text saying what the message of the text means for individuals.
Healing and Forgiveness:
Leader:We have heard both Jesus and St Paul speak about what it means to be a Christian and the kinds of lives we should be living. We have also admitted together that we are far from perfect and that we need forgiveness. Let us now place into the pot the sins and failings that we have written down as a way of symbolizing that we are placing these before Jesus for his healing power.Everyone comes forward and puts their paper into the pot (not too tight or they will not burn).
Leader:Creator God, you turned emptiness and darkness into a world filled with wonders and good things. Your brought your people Israel out of their prison in Egypt and led them to the land of Canaan, a land filled with milk and honey. When the time was right you sent your Son Jesus Christ among us as a man, so that we may live in a whole new creation and he gave us the gift of a new life in you.The leader now lights the papers and there is a short time of silent prayer.
Look with mercy on this your family.Sign of Peace:
As we burn these pieces of paper, accept our humble prayers of confession.
We have sinned and have proved ourselves to be unworthy of your love.
Forgive us our failings. Fill us with the power of your healing Spirit.
Bind us together again in the Love of your Son Jesus Christ
and may our family be filled with the peace, joy and happiness of your mighty Kingdom.
Forgive and forget our sins and may we do the same to others.
We make this prayer in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
All present offer each other a sign of peace showing that all past sins and failings have been forgiven and as a sign of a commitment to making the future better and the family a happier and holier community in Christ.
Time should be given for all present to make their prayers and intercessions aloud. If some find this difficult they should be encouraged to pray quietly in their hearts.
Blessing and conclusion:
Leader:Father we thank you for the blessings of this night.All:
For the healing and new life you have given to us.
During the coming weeks help us to be faithful to all we have said and done here
and strengthen us that we may share these gifts with others.
Together we pray:
May the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God + and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.The service should be followed by a special meal and a time for celebrating the wonderful things that God has done for the family group.
SOME PRAYERS FOR USE THROUGHOUT THE STUDY PROGRAMME
These prayers are provided so that as a Diocese we are sharing together common prayers and praying for the same kinds of things. There are special prayers built into the weekly discussions and these can be said through each of the weeks. These further prayers can be said by individuals, built into family prayers and used for all sorts of occasions. They do not all have to be said together but choices can be made. Some of them could well be learned off by heart and made a part of our own personal and family prayers.
Lord make me an instrument of your Peace.
Where there is hatred let me plant love.
Where there is injury, forgiveness,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair hope,
Where there is darkness light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much
seek to be comforted as to comfort,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
Forgiving that we are forgiven
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Come Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
And light within us the fire of your divine love.
Send forth your spirit and we shall be created
and you will renew the whole of the earth.
O God who taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of your Divine Spirit,
grant us by that same Spirit
that we may be truly wise,
and how to rejoice in your holy presence,
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF LOVE
O my God,
I love you above all things,
with my whole heart and soul,
because you are all good and worthy of all love.
I love my neighbour as myself for the love of you.
I forgive all who have injured me
and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE JESUS PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me a sinner
THE PRAYER OF ST IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Teach us Lord,
to serve you as you deserve to be served;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not worry about the wounds;
To work and not to look for rest
and not to ask for any other reward
except that of knowing
that we do your will,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER OF ST RICHARD of CHICHESTER
Day by day,day by day,
O dear Lord,
Three things I pray:
To see you more clearly.
To love you more dearly.
To follow you more nearly.
Day by day.
AN EVENING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And I love you with all my heart.
I thank you for having created me
and for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the day.
I pray that you wil take for yourself
Whatever good I have done this day
And that you will forgive me
Whatever evil I have done.
Protect me this night
And may your grace be with me always. Amen.
A MORNING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And love you with al my heart.
I thank you for having created me
And for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the night.
I offer you all of my prayers,
Works, joys and sufferings of this day.
Grant that they may be all according you your will
And for your glory.
Keep me from sin and evil
And may your grace be with me always.