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The Forgiveness of Sins and the Life Everlasting

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 31 March 2013

An Easter message from the Revd Dr Sam Wells, vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

“Two terrors – the panic about the past and the fear of the future – constitute the prison of human existence. Think about your life. Think about what grieves you. I’m guessing it’s two kinds of things. It’s what’s happened in the past that you can’t change, the sequence of events that’s led to a kind of prison, has led to you being in some sense in chains. And it’s the things you cherish that you dread you can’t keep – your youth, your life, the things and the people you love, this very moment we share right now.

And what does the Christian faith proclaim? Two central convictions. One about the past, and one about the future.

The first is about the past. It’s the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past. But it releases us from the power of the past. Forgiveness doesn’t rewrite history. But it prevents our histories asphyxiating us. Fundamentally forgiveness transforms our past from an enemy to a friend, from a horror-show of shame to a storehouse of wisdom. That’s the work of forgiveness. It’s about the transformation of the prison of the past.

Just bask for a moment in the Easter wonder of being released from the prison of the past. It’s almost beyond our imaginations. It’s the gift of the gospel.

And here’s the second conviction. It’s about the future. The life everlasting. Everlasting life doesn’t take away the unknown element of the future: but it takes away the paroxysm of fear that engulfs the cloud of unknowing. Everlasting life doesn’t dismantle the reality of death, the crucible of suffering, the agony of bereavement: but it offers life beyond death, comfort beyond suffering, companionship beyond separation.

Bask for a moment in the Easter gift of everlasting life. Fell it slow dismantle all your worst fears. Let it set you free. Let it give you indescribable joy.

This is the Christian faith. The newspapers think it’s all about women bishops and gay marriage. Of course those things matter. But the heart of it all is forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting. If you have those, nothing can finally hurt you. If you don’t have those, nothing can save you.

The restoration of the past and the gift of the future. This is the present tense, made possible in Christ’s resurrection. This is Easter.”