The Repentant: Lives Changed So Much Heaven Rejoices:
The Repentant: Lives Changed So Much Heaven Rejoices
Israel and King Josiah 2 Kings 22:3-13, 23:24-25
† I.H.S. †
May you realize the blessing and great joy of hearing God’s loving, benevolent call to repentance, even as you struggle with the fact you need it!
You Lost What?
At first, I cannot even imagine how the priests in the Temple, the King and all the people of God could have gotten to this place.
I mean, I’ve heard of people losing a lot of things, and I’ve heard of a person or two losing their Bibles. But can you imagine coming to church here, and in the sanctuary, in the office and in all of the classrooms there was not a Bible to be found?
It was worse, they didn’t even know they had lost it….
Imagine Chuck coming up to Christ and Al and I saying, “Hey look what I found out in the trailer in back, and handing us a Bible, and it taking a moment or two for us to realize what it was….”
Doesn’t that sound bizarre?
Especially in the Old Testament with all the rituals, the covenants, the readings?
They didn’t know what they were missing.
And they were missing the word of God. The promises of God, the incredible blessings that were to be passed down to everyone.
They lost it….
Seems inconceivable that the word of God was nowhere to be found. And no one noticed the difference…
It is inconceivable because we can’t imagine it happening here.
We can’t imagine losing the Bible, yet we can lose it, even while it is in plain sight. We can lose it because we are concentrating and focused on the things that surround us. They can be good things or evil things. Israel forgot God and worshiped a Bronze calf, but they also forgot God when the worshiped the bronze serpent that God had them fashion to facilitate their repentance and healing.
We lose the gospel when our lives are a struggle. When finances, or marital issues, or work challenges are so overwhelming, we don’t have the answers. When our health issues are so devastating.
Or maybe it is simply sinning that is distracting us, when our idolatry, rebellion, anger, lust, desire, gossip, and jealousy have blinded us to God’s presence, to His mercy and to His love.
Then we’ve lost scripture, and as Israel and the King, we don’t know that we lost the gospel, or that we’ve forgotten our loving, merciful God.
It is, therefore, a blessing that we have a service like Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. A time to spend to reflect on our need for repentance, and our need for transformation. A time where we are conformed to the image of Jesus.
We need to take the time for what is called being penitent, to be reminded to reflect on our lives, and ask God to cleanse us.
So where are your sins… I gave you a list earlier, but in case, your weren’t listening have you….
Set up something in the place of God? Do you trust in something more than you trust in Him? If so, as we come to our time to confess, bring that up…
Have you misused His name? Or as a Christian, have your actions brought it an honor and praise? If so, as we come to our time to confess, bring that up…
Do you take the time to spend with Him, to know His word? If so, as we come to our time to confess, bring that up…
Do you honor those God has given responsibility for you, including parents, elders, and public officials? If so, as we come to our time to confess, bring that up…
What about your anger, and thoughts about people where you want to strike out, If so, as we come to our time to confess, bring that up…
What about lust and improper desire for those you aren’t married to, whether its just a thought, word or if you have acted on it? Or gossip, Or just desiring what others have….we need to repent…
And as I stand here, and I call us all to a time of repentance… just as the King ordered all Israel to repent, to see them rid of the sin which affected their lives… (CLICK)
(from the liturgy on screen) The Holy Spirit moves us to confess our sins to God, and to accept His mercy, the gift which is ours in and through His Son Jesus Christ, and to receive His forgiveness. Take a moment to contemplate your sins of this day and past days, confessing them to your Lord.
(after the time of confession, all are invited to be marked with a ash cross to symbolize their desire for God to forgive their sin, and transform them into the image of Christ)
( The sermon will be completed after the reading fo the Gospel Luke 15:3-7 and the confession of our trust in Christ – aka the Creed)
The story of King Josiah and the people of Israel is an incredible lesson, a lesson that doesn’t end with a simple cleaning house.
Listen to how scripture describes him, as one who “served the LORD with all his heart, mind and strength” obeying (treasuring) this covenant relationship we have with God.
It is no wonder our gospel reading for this season talks of the joy of heaven, as Jesus brings us lost sinners home.
You see, repentance isn’t just about feeling bad for the sins you have committed in your thought, words or actions. Repentance is a transformation of our hearts and minds. It is not something we can do by our own reason and strength, the Holy Spirit does this work in us, as God promised when Ezekiel said that God will remove our hearts of stone and replace them with His heart, a heart of flesh.
Repentance is a miracle, it is the miracle that Jesus came to make true. And as Josiah and all of Israel, as Naaman the Syrian general, as Gomer the prostitute as corrupter government leaders like Zaccheus and church leaders like Peter are granted repentance, are transformed by God, we find the same promise, the same hope, the same peace…as He carries us home on His shoulders….for He bore all our sin, as He was crucified….and He gives us life in Him. God has granted to you and me repentance, and the feast for us prodigals, Christ’s feast awaits_ that will cause us to dwell in His peace. AMEN?