This morning our preacher used a game metaphor in his sermon. He noted that many games have rectangular playing fields. Players and ball must stay within the rectangular lines.Baseball is an exception to the general rule. The lines run from home base out to and beyond first and third bases. A ball hit between those two long diverging lines is fair. If it goes over the fence it is an automatic home run. I told him that this morning he had hit a home run.
In yesterday’s blog I attempted to lift out the truth in the myth in Genesis 4. I read recently that calling something the truth tends to end a conversation. By my use of the word truth I do not mean to end a conversation, not even within myself. I hope that whatever conversation there is it will be friendly. Back to the blog, I mentioned the possibility that Jehovah’s regard for Abel’s sacrifice may have begun the notion that God’s anger can be satisfied only with a blood sacrifice. I said that this notion continued through the Bible to the crucifixion of Jesus and on through the Catholic mass and the protestant communion service.
This being the first Sunday of lent our church had a communion service. So this evening I feel a need to continue thoughts on the notion of the need for a blood sacrifice in order for our sins to be be forgiven. I must confess to you now that I consider the need for a blood sacrifice for sin to be an unfounded notion, not a solid truth.
So what do I believe? I believe that every Christian church service and every preacher’s sermon should have three explicit elements. One is an invitation to decide to be a disciple of Jesus. This may be a costly decision. In the days of Jesus it meant different things to different people, and so it is today. We ought not judge each other. It is enough to know that God loved the world before Jesus died.
Second, the service and the sermon of the church should point to living like Jesus to be the way to be salt and light to the world. This is the way of salvation of the people and of the earth. Mennonite Church USA is helping us to understand that we are connected to all peoples and the earth. Jesus was the savior before he died. Third, the service and the sermon of the church should carry an invitation to suffer as Jesus suffered. Jesus was not crucified for his sins. Even Pontius Pilate recognized that Jesus had done no wrong. Jesus was crucified because he was a good man and challenged both religious and civil authorities.
So the church should prepare its members for civil disobedience and for nonviolent resistance. Latino Churches illustrate this today. They welcome undocumented workers and are prepared to suffer for it.