Sunday, August 01, 2004

"You should never leave church feeling defeated," said Pastor Steve. He made an effort to end this morning's service on an up note, since we'd just begun a sermon series on the seven deadly sins. It was a good move. I had to laugh at how guilty I am of the sin we covered this morning, the source of all the others: pride. Oi.

We approched the subject realistically, fairly... Which meant acknowledging that all of us were prideful in some way. Most of us, in a big way.

It's a complex problem. Self-esteem isn't sinful, but thinking too highly of yourself is. Taking care of your needs is necessary, but focusing too much on what you want is. Pride is subtle, and takes forms I hadn't thought of. When Pastor Steve listed them, though, they all sounded familiar to me.

- Self-preoccupation: the obvious manifestation. Vanity, delusions of grandeur, what have you. The Muhammad Ali complex.

- Stubbornness: the belief that you are always right. Taking offense at being justly corrected.

- Control issues: perfectionism. Wanting things done your way, or not at all. Taking over when it's inappropriate.

- Judging people: as Pastor Steve describes it, a statement that sets you against someone, saying, "I am not for you." Often masked in supposedly concerned statements. I think of scorn and condescension, which never fail to wound.

So yeah. Guilty. I remember Amanda telling me "you like being in charge." I was suprised at the time. Didn't think of myself that way, but it's true. Sometimes I catch myself making nitpicking suggestions to people, butting in where it's certainly not my place, and so on. I've always hated being wrong. And sometimes it makes me sick how judgmental I can get.

I'm gonna be working hard on this one. Really glad we had communion today. I'm really glad it's one of the very few rituals in the Christian church. It's easy to understand the symbolism, which makes it no less powerful. Especially with the way the Wesleyan denomination approaches communion, it's a wonderful, potent reminder of Jesus' love and sacrifice.

That's the perfect way to top off a sermon about sin. A reminder that God loves us anyway.

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