Carstairs-Bancroft United Church
May 7, 2020
DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
I found the previous two reflections very encouraging and supporting. We need to hear that God is ready to nourish and strengthen us, especially when “the “journey is too much” for us”. It is similarly heartening when we are told that our prayers are not only heard, but also backed up by the Holy Spirit.
Still, we know that disappointments and pain have the ability to break the connection between us and the Source of Life and Love. And whether we like it or not, there is something else that can disconnect us from the presence of God, and it is what the Bible calls ‘sin’.
I accept as true that we were created for relationship with the Almighty, and with one another. When we behave in hurtful ways – whether purposefully or unintentionally – we want to hide, and if we can’t interrupt the vicious circle, alienation can grow to such an extent that we might even deny the goodness and existence of the One who “created our inmost being” (Psalm 139).
The Our Daily Bread Devotion that I share with you today sheds light on this troubling aspect of life. However, as always when we deal with God, the bad news comes with a good one. If we dare not to hide, but to bring our iniquities before God, the Holy One is ready to forgive, and to guide us back to the path of life and love.
Though many situations when we ‘sin’ are not funny at all, the example that James Bank shared with us made me laugh. We used to have a beautiful Bernese mountain dog who acted very similarly. After chewing an ornamental shrub, he hid behind me when Attila wanted to teach him with the gnawed brunch not to do it again. This ‘education’ failed due to our chuckling, and of course forgiveness was granted. Those of you who have canine friends may recall stories alike.
The Scripture teaches us that our sin has more serious consequences than of a missing meat or a destroyed shrub. Apostle Paul formulates it very clearly: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) Nonetheless, this statement is immediately followed by the good news: “… but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
As he explains it to the Ephesians: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)
Even if we felt like hiding – just as Max, the Labrador retriever did – we are encouraged to approach God and to ask help in reconciliation. This will lead us to what we all yearn for: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Grace and Peace to You All,
The One Who Sees
You may be sure that your sin will find you out.
“Oh no!” My wife’s voice rang out when she stepped into the kitchen. The moment she did, our ninety-pound Labrador retriever “Max” bolted from the room.
Gone was the leg of lamb that had been sitting too close to the edge of the counter. Max had consumed it, leaving only an empty pan. He tried to hide under a bed. But only his head and shoulders fit. His uncovered rump and tail betrayed his whereabouts when I went to track him down.
“Oh, Max,” I murmured, “Your ‘sin’ will find you out.” The phrase was borrowed from Moses, when he admonished two tribes of Israel to be obedient to God and keep their promises. He told them: “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Sin may feel good for a moment, but it causes the ultimate pain of separation from God. Moses was reminding his people that God misses nothing. As one biblical writer put it, “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
Though seeing all, our holy God lovingly draws us to confess our sin, repent of it (turn from it), and walk rightly with Him (1 John 1:9). May we follow Him in love today. – By James Banks
REFLECT & PRAY
Thank You for being “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). I praise You that though You see both good and bad, You sent Your Son to save and set me free. Help me to walk in loving obedience. Amen.
How does the truth that God sees everything we do and still loves us encourage you to turn from sin? In what practical ways can you respond to His love today?
The words sinning and sin in Numbers 32:23 both come from the same Hebrew root ‘chata’. Meanings of the word include “to lose the path,” “miss,” or “miss the mark.” Though this word is used extensively in the Old Testament, it’s one of several terms used to denote sin and evil. The first occurrence of the word sin in the Bible (Genesis 4:7) is translated from this Hebrew word: “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.” – By Arthur Jackson
Used with permission