Renunciation of Evil

Do you renounce evil?

Pastor Sally asked my parents, as they held my 2 year old hand, at the church where I balance beamed on the walls and callout “my bells, my bells” before I was baptized.

Do you renounce evil?

My church in Arkansas asked, just after lightening burned it to the ground and the other kids and I made cross drawings out of ash on the front lawn. This church—which now had 30 kids and was bursting at the seams and found a way to expand with the rebuild—graciously confirmed me as an adult member before we had to move.

Do you renounce evil?

My home church asked—where I found relief from Jr High bullying, where I was supported and included despite my penchant for far too fancy dress up for Sunday, and my extroverted ways–as they confirmed me as a teenage member of the governing board, and eventually joyfully sponsored my call to ministry.

Do you renounce evil?

My first pastorate asked, ordaining me on bended knees, as a young and very, very enthusiastic pastor, trying to raise the excitement I felt for the church of tomorrow with anyone and everyone I could. They asked me that 10 years ago 10/2/2010.

I renounce evil. It is my call to hold fast onto what is good, but also to declaim all things that pollute faith.

Empires, Liars, and Caesars, Violent Authorities, Racism, Bigotry, Ableism, Homophobia, Transphobia and Sexism, White Supremacy, Hypocrisy and Virtue Signaling are all idolatry. Claiming that I am better than you is a sin against God.

Please, teach me to recognize evil when it happens. Help me to name it in all of its forms. And help be brave enough to renounce it whenever I see it–and to listen closely when others find it and point it out to me.

Craft my words: So my declamations are loud, craft my honor: so my apologies are brief and sincere. Open my eyes and guide my tongue: so I can help others do the work they need to do, and to find a way to education one another when mistakes are made.

Help me to denounce evil, I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to read/use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

“If I sin, I pr…

“If I sin, I pray that my sin is to be too welcoming, and to have the door too wide open. Never do I want to stand before God and defend why I didn’t let someone into my community, family, church, faith or life because I kept the opening too narrow. I would rather explain why I let everyone in rather than defend why I kept one person out.”

-Rev. Katy Stenta

Prayer of Confe…

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we forget to pray prayers of thanksgiving. Too often we let the worries and complaints overwhelm us. Forgive us, God. Set us free from the sin that tries to hamper our steps. Help us to pray instead of worry, to praise instead of grumble. Put in our mouths a song of your glory. Let it be as merry as the day is long, so that we might know hope, peace and life eternal. (Silent Prayer)…Amen

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds a non-juridical view of sin, by contrast to the satisfaction view of atonement for sin as articulated in the West, firstly by Anselm of Canterbury (as debt of honor) and Thomas Aquinas (as a moral debt).] The terms used in the East are less legalistic (gracepunishment), and more medical (sicknesshealing) with less exacting precision. Sin, therefore, does not carry with it the guilt for breaking a rule, but rather the impetus to become something more than what men usually are. One repents not because one is or isn’t virtuous, but because human nature can change. Repentance (Ancient Greek:μετάνοια, metanoia, “changing one’s mind”) isn’t remorse, justification, or punishment, but a continual enactment of one’s freedom, deriving from renewed choice and leading to restoration (the return to man’soriginal state).[29] This is reflected in the Mystery of Confession for which, not being limited to a mere confession of sins and presupposing recommendations or penalties, it is primarily that the priest acts in his capacity of spiritual father.[21][30] The Mystery of Confession is linked to the spiritual development of the individual, and relates to the practice of choosing an elder to trust as his or her spiritual guide, turning to him for advice on the personal spiritual development, confessing sins, and asking advice.

Confession is a statement of who you are, where you are and the striving to go beyond that! It is a statement comprised of self knowledge and belief: seeking the deeper actions of  understanding and faith.

When your heart is breaking….

Yesterday my heart broke….It was a difficult day with sad decisions and a good look at how temptation effects our lives….

Isn’t it interesting how it is easier to believe and remember evil than good? (for more on Good and Evil look here)

If you preach a sermon 90% about gospel and 10% about sin, most people remember the sin portion.

Why is evil so much easier to connect with? I think some of this has to do with our insecurity. Ted talk The Power of Vulnerability tackles this issue with storyteller/researcher Brene Brown.

In fact a lot of people I know don’t believe in Hell (Christians obviously included)…

So why then are the “less happy” endings more believable??? Why is it that “truth is hard” is the “real world” mantra

I don’t think life is shit and we struggle through it the best we can. I don’t think life is brutish, nasty, short. I think there is MORE than that.

But when my heart breaks, when difficult decisions are made, when people don’t show love and care towards one another, when people-hate-the-sin-not-the-sinner, when they fall back on smile-Jesus-Loves-you, when they use religion (as the TED video says) to provide answers instead of exploring faith), when people struggle with addiction, when parents don’t take good care of their children….

When these things happen, when its clear that the world is not perfect because of our self doubt, it is important to remember Jesus made us and loves us exactly the way we are…

Jesus believes that we are equipped, as those made in God’s image and as co-creators, to spread the good news…

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How do we know this? Because Jesus spent time as one of us. Jesus went to the desert and endured the Devil telling Jesus …you are not good enough, you are not a success, you can’t help in God’s work, you need (food, drink, success, fame) Me, the devil, to get there…Matthew 4:8-10 (Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”). And Jesus says, no, the way is through love and God, its through knowing myself as an intricate, important and beloved part of God’s plan and I don’t need to be perfect/in control/married/successful/rich to do that…I just need to be grounded and centered on God (Matthew 4:10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.) Take that evil. Yes, evil exists, yes life is difficult, no I don’t think we have to accept the chains of temptation, we don’t have value our “Success” the way the world does. Instead we can depend on God (we don’t need to dull the pain or even control it), we can know Christ has been there, understands that we stumble and loves that about us, because we are stumbling on his path, we are doing the best we can, and we are created in his image. We participate in Lent, so that we can participate more fully in Easter–we participate in Lent, because its a part of life, but we also participate in it so we can acknowledge that EASTER wins!!! All the time, everytime (even during Lent, Easter creeps through on Sundays!!!) Easter like Christmas, needs to be lived (see my post on Being Christmassed for more)

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Please note: I discuss heartbreak and difficulty as a tangible part of life (for more look at Anne Lamott’s thoughts here)

BUT: The Good news has written the ending for us, and we can Participate in God’s Celebration…we don’t have to just watch or hum along to God’s Concert–we can party and scream all the words<<——–THIS IS THE MESSAGE, try to remember this, don’t walk away already forgetting the good news

Good News: Jesus is the Savior

Better News; So you don’t have to be (subtext you get to help!!)

So the hard decisions were made, I am continuing to pray, to live into hope, to put into practice God’s love and care and to trust that my participation although it feels small is important and that the love I show has had meaning…and really knowing that heals my heart even as its broken (just as God heals are brokenness in a broken world)…I wonder if this is how Christ feels when he makes loving and difficult decisions on our behalf…Good news JESUS is the savior….Jesus loves ALL of us, no matter what. Amen.