The Readings call us to repent our collective failure as a church to proclaim the historic Gospel and to persist like the widow and Timothy in teaching the Faith that was handed down to us. We need to recognize our place as a Church that has been marginalized and in effect exiled as irrelevant to the culture. Like the Hebrews in exile we need to repent and be transformed into persistent faithful people.
1. The widow refused to give up in her quest for justice
Unlike many people – and our church, she was not willing to ‘go along to get along’. She stood up to the culture. She was loud and annoying. She overcame the culture and preserved God’s justice.
- In contrast many Christians and churches have gradually given in to a “Greasy Grace Theology” that de-emphasizes the serious consequences of personal and corporate sin (spiritual death) and the need for repentance and confession
- Many people seem to go directly from sin to forgiveness without any personal guilt, repentance or fear of God
- Being a “good loving person” has replaced personal holiness
- We have largely accepted a culture where correcting or rebuking people for sin is considered highly offensive
2. Jeremiah prophesied a New Covenant of personal hope
He was living in exile with the Hebrew people who had been carried away to Babylon (Iraq). They were in deep grief – the grief of repentance. After seventy years they felt abandoned by God. They had lots of time to think about what had gone wrong:
- They had abandoned their historic Faith and not listened to the repeated warnings from their Prophets
- Their culture had accepted inter-marriage and allowed the worship of other gods – contrary to the Covenant of Moses
- But God persisted in love and made a new Covenant with them based on individual rather than corporate responsibility
· New rule: “... everyone will die for their own sin...” (Jer. 31.30)
- Everyone would know the Law in their own mind – not dependent on teachers who could become corrupt
- Foreshadows Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit to teach us and convict us of sin
3. Like the Hebrews in exile we need to begin with repentance
Canadian Anglicans need to understand that they have put themselves in exile, separated from God and influence in society. We need to begin by repenting our personal and corporate failure to persist in proclaiming the authentic Christian Faith:
- We have been slothful in Bible Study, teaching, prayer and spiritual self-examination
- We have compromised our Faith to avoid personal hardship, ridicule and persecution
- We have failed to discern and confront the false teachers of ‘inclusiveness’, the ‘social gospel’ and ‘Greasy Grace” in their denial of sin and our human need for repentance and salvation
- We have mocked the holiness, love and forgiveness of God
4. Repentance enables us to be transformed and persistent
Repentance re-connects our personal Spirit to God. This connection is what dies when we persist in sin. Our soul is connected to our spirit - and so connects our mind and will to the voice of God through our personal spirit.Repentance motivates and enables us to become transformed into a persistent people with a powerful authentic Faith that is:
- Bible and tradition based
- Holy Spirit guided and convicted
- Carefully taught before Baptisms, Confirmations and Marriage
- Protected by clergy with the knowledge, wisdom, integrity and courage to “correct, rebuke and encourage” people in Faith.
- Supported by participation in home fellowship groups that study the Bible and pray for guidance and those in need.
- Nourished and fed by thanksgiving, worship and sacraments