Being Bearers of Faith Confessing Christ in Word and Deed.
First Sunday in Lent: February 17, 2013
If we believe and confess with our lips that Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, our sins will be pardoned.
Years ago, I took a youth group from one of our United Methodist Women mission institutions to Atlanta, Georgia. We visited the Jimmy President Carter Library and Museum, the zoo, Six Flags Over Georgia, an art museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. On Sunday, before returning home, we worshipped at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The sermon that morning was on sin. The minister talked about confessing your sins to the Lord and acknowledging that he is Lord of all. He told the congregation that they would be forgiven, that they would be made whole again. He told us that God had promised this to all who believed and that eternal life with God was assured.
Some members of our youth group had previously been involved in minor criminal activity and had been given a second chance. Riding back home, I had to silence some of the other passengers for joking with the guys who had been in trouble. The others teased the guys by saying, “The preacher was talking to you today.” One of the young men responded repeatedly, “But he told us that God would forgive if we only ask.” On that journey home, we talked about confessing that the Lord is God and that he is forgiving God, but that you must believe.
After returning home, one of the youth came to my office and shared his part of a carjacking crime that had taken place in the city. He was simply out for the ride and wanted to start fresh again with a clean slate. He decided to turn himself in and face the charges. Carjacking had become a federal offense and was not looked at lightly. He served several years in prison for the crime, but in return he became a new person and sin no longer controlled him. Today, he’s a successful small- business owner with three different companies. He speaks with his lips confessing his crime and how God gave him a new life. He hires young people from of the community where he grew up.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your promise. Thank you for giving us the chance to clear our slates. Amen.
Deaconess Clara Ester is a Program Advisory Group member of United Methodist Women.