By Kristen Gunn
A Reading from 1 Peter 4:7-19
7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11 Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?”
19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.
When I did a fellows program at a large Episcopal parish in Dallas a few years back, our director asked us at the end of the year what we thought we’d learned and how we thought we’d grown. And honestly, one of the first answers that came to me was, “Well, I believe in ‘sin’ again.” What I might have added was that my understanding of God and of love had begun to change, too. Sin and love are deeply related, after all — we might even think of them as the inverse of one another. But I, like many of my contemporary American young adults, hadn’t understood that well when I graduated college and began my fellows program.
Here was something that helped a lot: not so far into the year, a pastor in the parish who was our chaplain taught me how to make a confession — how to uncover my own sins before God in the presence of a priest and receive God’s healing and absolution. We’d had a conversation that had tipped him off to the fact that that particular sacrament might help me, and so he gave me a guide to preparation for the rite as it was practiced in that parish. The guide said — and this stuck with me — “Begin by reminding yourself that sin is not so much the breaking of a law as the refusal to love.”
Sin is the refusal to love. It makes sense, then, that loving is also the medicine, the antidote to sinning. Even in situations where the consequences of a certain sin may not be able to be undone, loving with the strength God supplies changes us in such way that sin no longer tastes good. It “covers over a multitude of sins,” but it also makes us less likely to commit new ones, because he himself is the Love that holds us, and in whom we are held.
Kristen Gunn is a student at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, where she is happily plucking away at an M.T.S. She has a B.A. in religion and linguistics, and loves dancing in the patristics section of the library when she thinks she is alone.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Lango – The Church of the Province of Uganda
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va.