St Johns FL Presbyterian ChurchYesterday we talked about scapegoats – in the cultural sense of the word – someone to blame when things go wrong. The Bible talks about scapegoats too – only in a little different sense. The book of Leviticus (16:20-22) tells us that God provided a means to alleviate guilt and shame, by giving the Israelites a ritual. Every year, the priests were to take a goat, lay hands on it, and confess over it all the sins of the community. The goat was then set free into the wild. The community was free from the burden of carrying around past wrongs, regret and shame.

Some people carry their past, their guilt, their shame around with them like a ton of bricks. It gets heavy and it weighs down their lives. This is sad. Today, we don’t need a scapegoat. We are free to confess our failures directly to God, and God has promised us forgiveness and new life.

In the first letter of John, he reminds us, “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But, if we confess our sins, God who is merciful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Friends, I invite you to hear and believe the good news.

Let us pray: The words of Psalm 139 come to mind again, “Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and then, lead me in the way everlasting.

We confess our sins before you, this day, O God. Trusting that you are good, that you are gracious, merciful and forgiving. Take away the shame. Take away the guilt. Help us to accept that we are forgiven – and lead us to new life; through the power of the Risen Christ who died and was raised for us. Amen.