Fall, Consequences, Forgiveness, Renewal


On Sunday, June 2nd, I began the sermon with a short reflection on freedom, and noted that freedom as we often understand it is very different from freedom as experienced in the Bible. Biblical freedom is deliverance from captivity and for life as God’s people. It is release from sin. And it is life in Christ.


The influence of faith communities, their sacred writings, and their core teachings has declined across most of our lifetimes. We are more likely to be shaped by cultural norms than Biblical teaching in many matters of significance. One of the most clear examples is our understanding of sin. I’m not sure that there’s cultural consensus around the reality of sin, let alone its definition, impact, and remedy.


This Sunday, June 9th, our readings offer us another way of seeing and understanding human sin and how God deals with it. We have the story of the Fall in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve’s eating from the tree that God had forbidden them to eat from. The consequences are both immediate and lasting. They hide from God, attempt to cover themselves with makeshift clothing, and then attempt to cover their sin by blaming and rationalizing. God banishes them from the garden but continues to care and provide for them. Forgiveness as we understand it is not really part of this narrative.


We do get to forgiveness in the Gospel of Mark. In the chapter preceding this Sunday’s, Jesus forgives the sin of a man who is not able to walk as part of his healing of him. And we find that not everyone is happy to have the forgiveness of sins accessible through Jesus. By this Sunday’s reading, Jesus’s critics are accusing him not only of lacking the authority to forgive sins, but of being an agent of the devil. Strong words.


We believe that Jesus forgave sins in his lifetime and for all time. That his suffering and death absorbed the full power of sin and that his resurrection overcame sin and death. Every Sunday we proclaim forgiveness of sin as part of our gathering in worship.


But there is another element in dealing with sin beyond forgiveness. The apostle Paul writes about renewal. The Holy Spirit within and among us renews us to the point of our being new people. Sin becomes less attractive, is more likely to be avoided, and when it is not, it is dealt with completely through forgiveness and reconciliation.


This is a lifelong process, and I believe it is God’s gift to the church, and through the church, to the world.


Grace and Peace,

Pastor Don Wink



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