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Thursday, December 26, 2013
Today’s Reading | 1 Timothy 1:15
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. (NRSV)
How often in worship we hear these words of assurance: “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” What we don’t hear the liturgist say is “of whom I am the foremost.” Of course we don’t fit Paul’s description of himself as “formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence” (verse 13). Nor may we identify with “a wretch like me” in the hymn “Amazing Grace,” written by former slave trader, John Newton. We’re not that bad! Jack Stotts, while chairing the committee that wrote the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s “A Brief Statement of Faith, said they received lots of strongly negative feedback on one particular phrase: “We deserve God’s condemnation.” We? Those other people, yes, but . . .
For years, I spoke prayers that confessed the sin of pride, but I didn’t really relate. Later when feminist theology identified that women’s overarching sin was not pride but withholding our fullest selves, suddenly I recognized myself. Accommodating, distrusting my inner voice, fearing rejection, not relying on God all diminished my courage to live as God desires and work for a world of compassion and dignity. I newly saw—and increasingly see—how far short I, and we, fall. “Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation” we say in “A Brief Statement of Faith.” For God’s utmost patience, let us indeed give God honor and glory.
Merciful God, forgive me for seeing others’ shortcomings more quickly than my own. Transform my life and our world with your redeeming love. Amen.
Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission
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