From the Rev. Spencer Brown
What is sin? Our catechism defines sin as, “the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation” (BCP 848). This is pretty serious stuff, and yet we would have to do something pretty bad to distort our relationships…right?
Well, maybe not. Sin is that which distorts or damages relationships. With the holidays quickly approaching, I’m reminded of an SNL sketch of Thanksgiving. A family is gathered around a table when comments are made that are just what you imagine. Comments regarding race, sexuality, gender expression, politics, religion, and socio-economic status are flung back and forth.
The humorous part comes when a young child turns on a CD player and Adele’s song “Hello” begins to play. The shot turns from color into black and white, and the characters begin to have fur coats, painted nails, long hair blowing in the wind, and other marks of a music video.
These black and white interludes punctuate an otherwise tense and uncomfortable event. I imagine we’ve all been to dinners like this, where words are hurled and tension is palpable. That’s all it takes to cause harm to a relationship. Words have the power to irreparably harm relationships, hearts, and spirits. Words have the power to kill.
We aren’t simply called to be quiet. To truly undo the work of sin is to listen deeply to others without the need to reply. Undoing the work of sin is to break a cycle of words and humble ourselves because, believe it or not, we could be wrong. Undoing sin is to be open to the work of the Spirit and the work of Jesus Christ in the midst of our quarreling.
It’s easy to watch a humorous video about a thanksgiving dinner, yet it’s something else entirely to live in a world full of division and strife. “Sin” isn’t a word we often like to hear, but “love” is a word that brings hope. God’s love for us is so great that there is nothing that we can do to break it. Jesus Christ offers us a way of reconciliation, community, and right relationship. Christ’s way isn’t easy. Christ’s way is radical, uncomfortable, and transformational.
We are transformed through radical love of Christ to love one another radically, because we are all the body of Christ. We sin because discipleship and following Christ isn’t something to be done alone. We are a gathered community, even in this time where we are dispersed. Now is the perfect time to open our eyes to the possibilities of community, where we can be more than welcoming.
If only our lives were punctuated with black and white moments where we are transformed. Thankfully, we have these moments every day through our interactions with others and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Sin separates us from the image of God, from one another, and from all creation. As we seek community dispersed, we gather as the risen body of Christ. We venture into the world seeking Christ in all we encounter, and we strive to remember not to take ourselves too seriously. Thanks be to God for community, laughter, and the knowledge to seek deep relationship with one another.