Sermon in a nutshell: “Ask Forgiveness to the Community” (Lev. 4:1-12)
We are forgiven because we do not know what we are doing.
Our YAGS (Young Adult Group in Service) started a petition campaign “One less shower a week!” Because I usually take shower twice a day (morning and evening), I decide to have one shower a day. They share the information that we spend usually 50-60 gallon of water in one shower and that is actually the amount of water to grow one avocado tree. If all of Christians in California participate in this campaign, we can grow enough trees that we need. I did not know that! By taking shower twice a day, I used up our precious resources without thinking! That is a sin! I commit a sin without knowing. Then I remembered that when I was in Jordan, they said that they get water from the government one day a week! I and my wife refrained from taking shower in Jordan to save water for the country. Once we knew their situation, we could not waste the water that they needed for drinking. This is the kind of sin that we are talking about today. The Bible says that when we commit a sin without knowing, i. e., unintentionally, we have to give Sin Offering (Absolution Offering) to be forgiven. It is our way of saying sorry to our community. This is our effort to restore the Garden of Eden where everything was in harmony.
Sin Offering (Absolution Offering) gives us the opportunity to think about the whole community.
In our human community, we can find victims even when we cannot specify the offenders. In the movie, “Mary and Martha,” Mary came to the point when she could not stand the conversation of the ordinary house wives. Her friends were just talking about their cars. Mary used to talk about her car also. We talk about our cars all the time. We want to buy a better car. We compare their prices and functions. We want more comfortable cars. However, Mary realized that children in Africa are dying because they do not have $10 and here we are talking about expensive cars! Before her son died, she did not realize that it was a sin. Now she clearly saw that it was a sin. She needed a car. However, she would buy a humble car and use the rest of the money to buy more mosquito nets to save more lives. Now she is thinking about her life in the light of the global perspective!
Many times, we commit sin because we are ignorant. The more we are aware of the facts about our sins that we commit without knowing, the more we become humble. Many things that we take for granted are actually fruits of our sinful systems. In that sense, whenever UMW tried to avoid unfair trades and burn all the products of the child labor, they offer Sin Offering. Many of us buy such products and become a part of such a sinful system without knowing.
Lord, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing!
Jesus prayed for the people who wanted to crucify him. Jesus clearly knew that the crowd did not know who Jesus was. They did not know God’s plan and God’s will. When I walked on the road in Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa, I realized that I could be easily one of those people who ridiculed Jesus. There were still many people who just tried to sell souvenirs to us when we tried to focus on the meaning of the suffering of our Lord. I prayed to God also, “Lord, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing!” Nobody was wicked or sinful intentionally. They just tried to make their ends meet.
Let us give our Sin Offering whenever we learned our sins.
The modern world is complicated. Our daily lives are possible because of our sinful system. If we try to live without committing any sin, maybe we all should live in a desert like the Qumran community. It is impossible for us ordinary people to avoid all the sins. That is why we need Sin (Absolution) Offering. We realize that we are living comfortably because somewhere in the world somebody is sacrificing their comforts. We are all connected and we owe our comfortable life to someone in the world. That makes us humble all the time.
With God’s Grace, when we realize our sinful life style and find ways to fix that, as Mary did, we will fix them one at a time. We will fix them together. In this way, we have abolished the Salve system, Racial and Gender discrimination, and unfair trades. We have come a long way but we are still far away from the Garden of Eden. When God opens our eyes and allows us to see our sins, we do not want to cover them up. We want to offer Sin Offering to restore the lost Garden.
May God bless us to offer our Sin Offering so that we can make a better community where all should live together!
- What are the sins that you recently realized in your life?
- How did you fix them?