Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Covered Sins


Read Matthew 26:20-30. This is the recounting of what we know as “The Last Supper” and the model for our practice of the Lord’s Supper or what we call communion or even referred to as the Eucharist or the Holy Meal. We do not participate in communion during this season of Lent and often people will ask why we do not celebrate this Holy Meal during Lent. The answer lies in the foundational story for Lent - the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days so as Jesus fasted so do we - fasting from the meal he has brought to us.
Let’s remember the story of Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus at about the age of 30 comes to see John the Baptist who is baptizing people in the Jordan River. John is trying to bring the Jewish people back to the true worship of God so they will be able to recognize the Messiah when he appears. Jesus is baptized and immediately the heavens open up and we hear the voice of God saying, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased” and then we see the Holy Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove and landing on Jesus. Jesus, filled with God’s spirit, comes out of the river and immediately (this word is stressed in the scripture passage!) - Jesus
immediately goes out into the wilderness where he spends 40 days in fasting and prayer considering the work that God has called him to do. 40 days of fasting and prayer thinking about his relationship with God and what God wants him to do, This is our model for Lent - 40 days of fasting and prayer and thinking about about our relationship with God and thinking about what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and about what God wants us to do as a result of what he has done for us. Some people really fast during this time but even if we don’t fast from our food, we do fast from the Holy Food so that when we share in that meal on Resurrection Sunday - communion is a great celebration and a time of joy as we are reunited with and sharing a meal with our risen Lord!
As we continue with our look at the Psalms during this Lenten time, we look today at Psalm 32 - a Psalm that reminds us of our sin and guilt and of our forgiveness. When we gather around the table for the Holy Meal we hear Jesus’ words - “This cup is a new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin.” This idea of sin and blood and forgiveness is an important part of our understanding of our relationship with God. God is a holy God and God cannot ‘look at sin’. Why were Adam and Eve thrown out of the garden? Remember God would come down and walk with Adam and Eve, but after they sinned by disobeying him, he could not longer spend that intimate time together, so Adam and Eve had to leave the garden; they had to leave the presence of God.
So as the sinful people we are, we could not be God’s people without some means to cover up or rectify our sin. And that returning of our relationship with God happened because Jesus shed his blood. So Psalm 32 starts out with “Happy is the one whose sins are forgiven!”
Have you ever really considered why you should be happy because your sins are forgiven? Maybe we should start that discussion with what sin actually is. There are sins - those acts that are morally bad for us and bad for society - these are the lying, stealing, adultery, type sins. Paul also adds things like gossip and dissension and complaining to those morally harmful types of sin. But the sin that we really need to consider is the sin of disobedience to God - this is the sin that falls under the Deuteronomy 6 passage - you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul. Meaning that God is first in everything we do and think. And I think we can all agree that we don’t do that. We fall short of doing that minute by minute. But through the blood of Jesus Christ, God forgives us and for every minute we don’t do what God desires, God forgives us and will continue to do so forever……..
God says we cannot have a relationship with him as a sinful person, but then he says I love you so much that I want to have a relationship with you so I have provided a way for you to be forgiven. And knowing that - the Psalmists says we should be happy. Not just happy, we should be ecstatic!
The next section of the Psalm teaches us the benefit of confession. Any of you who have a Catholic heritage know that confession is an integral part of the practice of Catholicism. Now I don’t know the nuts and bolts of how that worked exactly, but psychologists have supported that practice of confession saying that confession to another human being of the acts we feel guilty about has a great therapeutic benefit to the individual. That act of verbalizing the things we have done wrong - whether they be the sins like lying, stealing, or the sins of gossiping or hurting another individual, or the sins of not putting God first in our lives seems to have a positive effect on our lives and is a step toward a true feeling of happiness with ourselves - that feeling of joy, peace and contentment that we all seek. We do a little of that when we have our prayer of confession during worship which is laid out the way it is because it gives us a chance to confess corporately - as a church, then we have that moment of silent confession when we can silently admit the things we do wrong and then we end the prayer with that plea to God for forgiveness recognizing that we know that regardless of the sin, God will forgive us. While we may think that is just a ritual part of our worship, it is a part of the worship because acknowledging our sin is an important step in understanding who we are and who God is.
Even from Old Testament Times God knew that in order to really relieve ourselves of the guilt we carry, we have to be able to acknowledge what we do wrong. That was the purpose of the system of taking an animal to the temple and having it killed as an act of realizing the need to offer something to God for his forgiveness. Our admitting our sin is like the first step of the AA 12 step program - you have to admit you are an alcoholic at the very beginning or else the program won’t be of any help to you and we have to admit that we are sinners or else the shed blood of Jesus makes no difference in our lives. And if the shed blood of Jesus makes no difference in our lives - then why are we here?
This final week before Holy Week calls us to think about sin. Not something we want to think about; none of us like to think about what is bad about ourselves….. yet it is part of our understanding of our faith. If we aren’t sinners, then we don’t need Jesus. and then we immediately learn that even though we are sinners, God loves us anyway. Its quite the circle.
God made us capable of making choices. Unfortunately we often choose not to put God first in everything we do. And God sent his son to shed his blood to forgive us. Rejoice and consider how much our God loves us.