Rev. Alex Wilson
October 4, 2020
Rev. Alex Wilson
Vicar

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Reference

Matthew 21: 33-46

One of my favorite images in relation to life, is a picture of a small kid with a very expressive scared look on their face. Not unlike a face we might make as we go over a rollercoaster. This child is sitting in their kids play center grabbing the front of it as they lean back in surprise, comes with a caption “Jesus, take the wheel.” I like it firstly because it's cute, but more importantly because it realys a representation of how life feels sometimes. The winds of responsibility and the demands of our lives often lead to feeling tired or unsure of what to do, so the idea of someone else taking the wheel of our lives is a relaxing one. However, the sentiment is way more than just sitting back and letting Jesus do the heavy lifting for us. Instead, using the phrase “Jesus, take the wheel” is about naming Jesus as the centre of our world on whom we depend for everything. It's about naming Jesus as the one who’s actually in control, something our gospel speaks profoundly about this morning.

One of my favorite images in relation to life, is a picture of a small kid with a very expressive scared look on their face. Not unlike a face we might make as we go over a rollercoaster. This child is sitting in their kids play center grabbing the front of it as they lean back in surprise, comes with a caption “Jesus, take the wheel.” I like it firstly because it's cute, but more importantly because it realys a representation of how life feels sometimes. The winds of responsibility and the demands of our lives often lead to feeling tired or unsure of what to do, so the idea of someone else taking the wheel of our lives is a relaxing one. However, the sentiment is way more than just sitting back and letting Jesus do the heavy lifting for us. Instead, using the phrase “Jesus, take the wheel” is about naming Jesus as the centre of our world on whom we depend for everything. It's about naming Jesus as the one who’s actually in control, something our gospel speaks profoundly about this morning.

The narrative of Matthew’s gospel feels a bit distant for us, given how none of us live an agrarian life as they did then. And that's an important thing for us to pay attention too when we are hearing God’s word this morning. While the particulars of the message were for a select group of people who would have fundamentally understood the risks and challenges associated with today's scripture, there are some wider themes for us to pay attention too without bending the story to fit our needs. What Matthew is naming for us this morning is the sin of aversion, an aversion of accountability to God and God's divine authority. And while we may feel like its possible to look at this abandonment and reassure ourselves that its not speaking to us in the collective sense, Matthew challenges that this morning. Matthew is challenging us to respond to why reconciliation with indigenous people still fills us with shame, when there is no shame in reconciliation. Matthew is challenging us to respond to why we still feel it necessary to critique how a person dresses or looks in order to present our news everynight on TV, when the intrinsic value of a human being is not based on their looks but on the fact that they exist. Matthew is challenge us to respond to why environmental stewardship is less important than our profits, when God created all of what we see for our mutual thriving. Do you notice a theme? God, through Matthew, is calling us back to our confessional roots which is a place where nothings impossible with and through God.

This possibility, I believe, is a deeply inbuilt quality that everyone of us possesses. We are not born with shame, or sexism, or a need for destructive profit, we learn these traits. Our world shows us what it means to be a successful human being while giving us the tools to do it. Notice it's our world, and not Gods. Its a miss reading of authority, just like our Gospel this morning. It is for this reason that the church gives us the confession, because it's an opportunity for us to re-orientate ourselves to God in our everyday lives. But this reorientation doesn't happen in isolation. The confession is a space of deep and compassionate presence with and from God, where we as a gathered community listen for where God is leading us in our lives by declaring what it is we know to be true. That God is working among us and that we need Gods help to see that. We need Gods help to see that because we have fallen short of our capacity to follow God, and we need God’s mercy to help us get back on track. Forgive us, we say, for what we have done and for what we have left undone. And in this forgiveness God meets us and picks us up in love with compassion, rather than anger, because in God confession is about letting him in just a little bit more than yesterday, something that God wants more than anything in the world- to be closer to you and I than he was yesterday. 

When we confess our sins we are asking for Gods help in finding a way through what we are challenged with and into new life. For much of my life, I felt that confession was about forgetting what had happened and starting again. However, over the span of my life I have noticed the same themes in confession, which as a spiritual director once suggested “ this is not about avoiding the potholes of sin on the road of our life, but about seeing them more clearly and hopefully learning to avoid them down the road, asking for forgiveness when you don’t.” And this rings true because in the larger landscape of society, in that history always repeats itself, only the actors change, which challenges us to remember that those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. Confession then, is our chance to learn from our history and right our relationship with God, by listening too and putting our whole trust in God. A God who comes to us in confession with grace, love, and compassion so deep that we are not cut off forever from him for failure, but invited time and time again to recognize our need for His help, to name His authority over our lives, and to try again to live within his vision for our world and our lives. A vision where the beatitudes are our guiding principles, where the environment is as sacred as the Eucharist, where human dignity is the foundation of all our interactions, where reconciliation is our greatest joy.

God is calling you and I home to our deepest truest selves today, in confession. God’s calling us as the body of Christ to embrace our brokenness, so that God can remake us in his perfect image. An image set free for service in the world, a world that needs the help of the gospel now more than ever. So church, what truths do we need to acknowledge today about how we are, so that God can rebuild us even stronger to proclaim hope, love, peace, and joy into the darkness and fear all around us today?