Sin is not a popular topic. Even so, sin exists; it is a reality in our lives. The fact that there are locks on the doors of our houses is daily proof that sin is real. We have laws and police departments to enforce them because sin exists. So why is it important to talk about sin? In order to get depressed or feel guilty? No. We need to talk about sin in order to be free of it.
In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist proclaims that the way to prepare for the arrival of Jesus is to repent of ours sins (Matthew 3:1-12). When it comes to sin, often we think of specific acts that are sinful. While this is appropriate, true repentance has to do with thinking about the source of our sinful actions. It means getting in touch with what is going on inside of us that leads to our sinful deeds.
Our actions are the symptoms of what is going on inside. When we are ill, it is necessary to treat the cause of the illness, not just the symptoms. We might feel better for a while if we treat the symptoms, but the illness is still there. When it comes to sin in our lives, we often think of the behaviors without looking into what is causing them in the first place.
Advent is the time for us to repent, the time for naming the causes of our sinful actions and letting them go. Maybe we have a deep hurt inside that keeps eating away at us. Or perhaps it is anger, bitterness, jealousy or resentment that is managing our lives. Maybe we are disillusioned, disappointed or cynical and this colors what we do. Perhaps we harbor hate, prejudice or arrogance that shows itself in our conduct. All of these are like poisonous intruders that we let into the homes of our lives. Advent is the time for confronting these intruders and saying, “You are out of here”, and then leading them right out the back door.
Even though it may not be pleasant, every once in a while, we need to think about sin so that we can be free of it. Advent is the time to repent. It is the season to look at what is causing our sin from within and telling it goodbye.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector