When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. Genesis 6:1-8
Geesh, talk about turning on a dime! One minute everything is sons with flowing locks of hair and people getting married, next minute humanity's age clock is turned back like daylight savings time, and the next minutes everything goes to hell in a hand basket. Talk about a roller coaster of verses! What in the world is going on? And more over, is every single thought of our heart really evil...continually?
I will own up to my own stuff...I don't always look at every person with "Bambi eyes" and an open heart. I judge and whisper sarcastically under my breath. I am sure God has occasionally shook God's head like I do when my children are less than their brilliant/loving/amazing selves. That is to be expected. But the judgement here is so swift it makes your head spin.
Was everyone really that corrupt? Was Noah really the only one who found favor in God's sight? Or perhaps the real question is not, "Is this true?" But, "How is this true?"
Again, I am sure I do things that grieve's God's heart. There are moments I feel disconnected and disoriented from the grace of God. And to be sure, one of the most heartfelt words we can offer in prayer is "Sorry". Yet we live in a world where there is the non-apology apology. Some politician or athlete gets in trouble or in some scandal and the first attempt is to deflect and blame. "I did not know!" or "I am innocent". As the media reports pile up, eventually the person comes on with some sort of statement like, "If I offended you, I am sorry." What does that really mean? Is the person sorry because:
a). I got offended OR
b). the actual situation?
It is hard to tell. Sorry is one of those words we utter quickly to try to make things better. To be really be sorry will linger for days with a heavy heart. The truth is when we are in broken relationships and situations words will not heal...only time and God's grace and different actions will. Sorry helps...but it is only one small step.
Which is why prayers of confession are often not understood, but certainly necessary. We need to say we are sorry. Not because of God's judgement, but because we need to own our own stuff. AA says that until the person realizes she or he has a problem, true transformation is not possible. Confession shines a light on all the ways our words and actions are out of tune and out of sync with God's realm. Confession reminds us that NO ONE has all the answers.
One of the reasons why I love the United Church of Christ is that as a minister I am not expected to have all the answers. I am expected to walk faithfully among the people, help those struggling and accept help when I struggle.
I invite you today to ponder who you need to say "Sorry" to? Who are the people you hurt? Notice I did not ask, "who hurt you?" That is a post for another time, another place. This is about brokenness each of us causes. And it is important part of reconciliation that I just posted about.
I pray that you will do more than keep this to yourself. That during Lent you will reach out with apologies and seek to rebuild relationships to people you care about in your neighborhood, at work, at church, in your family and community. We often talk about the hymn, "They will know we are Christians by our love." Perhaps one way of letting that hymn be sung in our lives is to admit we are sorry.
May there be traces of God's grace as we enter into the brokenness of our lives and seek reconciliation!