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 call on our leadership to repent and be more persistent in proclaiming and sharing our historical Faith.
1. The widow refused to give up in her quest for justice
Unlike many people in 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 resistance and preserved God’s justice.
· In contrast, many Christians 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 serious 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 the cultural ideal personal holiness
· We now live in a dangerous 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:
· Their leaders 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 responsibility
· New rule: “... everyone will die for their own sin...” (Jer. 31.30)
· Everyone would know the Law in their own mind – not be dependent on teachers who could become corrupt
· Foreshadows Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and convict us of sin
3. Like the Hebrews in exile some people need to repent
Some people need to see that they have put themselves in exile, separated from God and influence in society. They need to begin by repenting their personal failure to persist in proclaiming the authentic Christian Faith:
· Some have been slothful in Bible Study, teaching, prayer and spiritual self-examination
· Some have compromised our historic Faith to avoid personal hardship, ridicule and persecution
· Some 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
· Some have mocked the holiness and forgiveness of Jesus
4. We need to love the lost to repentance, forgiveness and life
We who have been persistent in Faith need to celebrate the grace, forgiveness and joy we have received. Others need to hear the good news of forgiveness and healing and be loved through the process of repentance, forgiveness and healing into a life of freedom and joy. They need to hear about and be taught a 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