Guilt is not the same as shame. But they’re cousins. And I need you to hold this with me. Guilt and shame run in the same circles and play on the same teams. But they’re different. And here’s the best way to describe it: Shame focuses on self . . . Guilt is about behavior. Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I am bad.” See the difference?
Baptism is as much about us believing and reclaiming this core truth of our existence as it is anything else. And that’s what I want to leave you with. We are God’s beloved. We belong. Even when we’re told we aren’t and we don’t.
To begin this sermon series, we need a philosophical framework for what it means to be a child of God. The Prologue to John offers this in spades. We will see that all of God’s children include all the children of the world. This means we are to extend love to every single person in this world. To love less is to miss the Greatest Commandment.
How we operate in the world matters. How we associate with one another (loving our neighbor) should be godly. Paul understands this and delivers an impassioned letter to his friends and church community in Philippi to remind them of what he already knows to be true: “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Phil 2.1-2)
Larry . . . this is how I’ll remember you and appreciate you. You made the music of First Baptist mend us. You equipped the choir and the congregation to go and mend others. This is your legacy of 44 years of full-time Christian ministry. Your quality of the music will live on here . . . and we’ll use it as you did . . . to mend the saints for the work of ministry. Thank you, my friend, for the music. Thank you for using your gifts to mend our souls.
Zephaniah starts like most of his contemporaries casting judgment on the wicked, especially the wicked nations. His words of passionate exhortation changes to compassion towards the “remnant.” This word is used three times between chapters 2 and 3. It is clear Zephaniah sees that God’s wrath will not be for all people. A small, remnant will ‘take refuge in the Lord’s name.’ This remnant is a hopeful reminder that even in the worst of things, there is still hope.
“Arise. Shine. A new light has come. It is from God and it is leading us down old paths.” These ancient words from the prophet Isaiah still ring true today, and they remind us of the truth that something new can in fact happen under the sun. And when we have the eyes to see the radiance of God shining on our old paths, we too “shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Is 60:6).
Luke 6 is Luke’s version of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. These rhythmic verses showcase that the old, difficult paths of being poor, hungry and persecuted are in fact the path that leads to the kingdom of heaven. But the old paths of the rich, prideful and fortunate are cursed to never see the light of Christ. We’d do well to hear from these powerful words again . . . and perhaps repent.
Simeon was a devout man who was told by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem and commission the baby Messiah. He arrives on cue, takes Jesus into his arms and sings to him a song that still reverberates today.