“Sin Boldly”, these were the words of my high school Hand Bell Choir director at my church in Naples. There were times in practice where a song would totally fall apart. Sometimes this would happen not in a big glaring way like someone playing the wrong bell at the wrong time. Sometimes a song would totally fall apart because a few people would sheepishly play the right bell at the right time or the wrong bell at the wrong time. In those moments no one knew really where we were in the music or what was going on. Mrs. Parker would yell out, come on if you are going to sin, sin boldly. Play the wrong bell loud and proud, at least then the whole group could hear your mistake and still have an idea of where we are and where we are going.
The phrase sin boldly did not come from Mrs. Parker but was first written in a letter by Martin Luther while he was in hiding. He wrote to a friend these words, “Sin boldly, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death and the world.”
Luther was not encouraging sin or sinning in a way that was of more impact than other sins. Yet, in his letter, he acknowledges that every human who lives on earth is a sinner and will continue to be because we live in a world where justice does not yet reign in completeness.
This provocative statement by Luther has studied for many years by many scholars. One scholar Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflected on it with the following thought, “Admit your sin boldly; do not try to flee from it, but believe much more boldly in Christ.”
We as humans and Christians have a way of justifying our sins, behaviors, and thoughts. We all have the propensity of minimizing the ways in which we have fallen astray and separated ourselves from God and others. Although this minimizing makes us feel better about ourselves it also minimizes our trust and full dependence on God.
This week in our scripture from Luke 7 we will look at the story of a woman who was known as a sinful woman in the city. She interrupted a dinner Jesus was at with the Pharisees and began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears.
At one point Jesus tells the Pharisee, Simon, “whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.” Jesus was teaching Simon that the degree by which we are aware of our own sin is really the degree by which we are also aware of God’s abundant grace.
WE are all sinners BUT we are also children of a God who is aware of the depths of our sin and still loves us and gives to us grace and forgiveness. Our scripture this week teaches us that we should be very aware of our sins BUT that we should be even more aware of God’s great grace and the way that empowers us to give grace and love to others!
So go out today, Sin boldly, but be aware of it, repent of it and be completely aware of God’s grace that is working in you and through you to keep loving!
(Also, if anyone wants to join our bell choir- we will start practices next month! Be in touch with Gerard! All music levels are invited!)
See you Sunday!