Monday, November 15, 2010

Sermon Scraps: the not-so-leftovers

I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, but I have a really good excuse. 1) I was sickity-sick-sick last Sunday (11/7), so much so that everyone kept their distance from me and my fever. 2) I didn't preach this Sunday.
So, what's been on my mind lately? Well a whole lot of stuff--holiday preparations, theology, worship planning, theology, church conference preparations, theology, family, theology . . . Are you noticing a trend? At our last ordination meeting / RIM retreat / whatever you call it, the leaders mentioned that when we meet in January, we will go through a mock board of ordained ministry interview. So I'm thinking, I've got to get my theological chops in back in shape. So, let's get started. How about we begin with atonement (everybody's favorite BOoM subject).
When I was being interviewed for commissioning, the question was something like, 'how would you explain atonement to a young adult -- say a young man says to you, Pastor if God really knew what I had done, how could I ever be forgiven?'
The question reminds me of a quote, but I can't remember from where it comes right now. The quote is, "I'm not sure I can worship a God who would forgive me." If I ever remember where it's from, I'll post it. Nevertheless, let's dig deeper. Can we worship a God who would forgive Hitler? What about a God who forgives a child predator? or Chuck Taylor (if you're unfamiliar with him, Google him w/ chuck taylor + warlord, and then check out the work of Exile International)?
The Apostle Paul told us that there is no one righteous, no, not even one (Romans 3.10). Even those we believe to be the most saintly, they fall short. All of us fall short (again, paraphrasing Paul in his letter to the Romans).
So what does it mean that we have fallen short? What does it mean that we've sinned. Let me back up to say, I know I'm a sinner. I committ deadly sins -- If I learned anything during my sermon series on the 7 deadly sins, it is that I can see myself in all of them. St. Anselm said that our sin causes it to appear as though we have offended the righteousness of God (Cur Deus Homo). Anselm also spoke of an immutable God, and I find flaws in that theology. But the question remains, how does our sin affect God? Does it affect God? If not, then what's the problem? Does Sin only affect us? Instead of asking questions, how about some answers?
Yes, our Sin affects us. It also affects our relationship with God. It moves us farther from God. Being that I cut my theological teeth in process theology, I would even go so far as to say that our sin affects God. I believe it causes God grief. God feels the pain of seperation. Beyond that, I'm not comfortable deciding how our sin affects God. Perhaps more learned scholars could comment.
I believe God feels our need for healing. If you're interested in reading more about our need for healing, I would recommend reading some of Andrew Sung Park's work on the concept of Han.
In order to break the cycle of Han, to release us from the power (read: lordship) of Sin, God chose to become us -- to enter into creation, to take on all the trappings of our sinful condition. This is where many Roman Catholic theologians and I disagree. I believe it is essential to atonement that Mary be fully human -- born with original sin. Mary is just like us. Mary is the one from whom Jesus gets his humaness. Does anyone know any good Maryology scholars. I would like to be able to quote some here.

And now . . . well, I hope I've whetted your appetite for a good theological discussion. Alas, the topic is bigger than one post. Here's my deal. I'll try to continue sometime this week, but I want comments. The whole reason I started this blog to talk theology and to have an outlet for the stuff that I can't seem to fit in my sermons. So I want comments. I want suggestions. I want folks to find the holes in my theology.

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