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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Jan. 26, 2020 | Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Spiritual Hindsight
    Ephesians 2:11–20

    ■ Fourth sermon in the 2020 Vision series

     H INDSIGHT IS 20/20, so the saying goes.

    “Hindsight is 20/20” essentially means that it’s easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened.

    In most cases, this common saying ends up being true for so many, because there’s usually something you didn’t understand at the time, but now that you think back on it, you can definitely realize that it was right or wrong.

    Hindsight can be a time of confirmation. “Looking back, it was the right thing to do. If I had to do it over, I’d do the same thing again.”

    † † †

    SAM WAS A 30-SOMETHING working as the youth director at First Church. A large group of teens enthusiastically came to church weekly for youth gatherings. Boys and girls alike were smitten by Sam and his charisma. His connection with them and his faith.

    In fact, the whole church was smitten — until one day a 16-year-old girl (we’ll call her Anna) spoke up and said that Sam had sexually assaulted her.

    Instead of being supported, Anna was hassled by church folks who supported Sam. She was accused of lying. She was told she should have kept it quiet. She was chastised for disrupting the church. That nothing good could come from her complaint.

    Most everyone tried to convince teenage Anna she was making too much of this. Sam was a friendly guy. She must have read more into whatever interaction happened. Some even proposed that if anything did happen, it was her fault because of the way she acted around him.

    † † †

    SHE WAS HUMILIATED all over again. Stripped of her dignity and the safe haven that should be her church. She spent a long time depressed and debating what she should have done. Did she lead him on? Was this an over-reaction?

    As weeks passed, Anna struggled with Paul’s words in Ephesians. How did she fit in this narrative? Were those members speaking against her right? Was she acting like one separated from Christ, without hope? Did she erect walls of hostility? Was she interfering with Christ making peace?

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    Through prayer, counseling and support from her parents, Anna saw clearly what had happened. In hindsight, going over everything again and again, Anna confirmed she had acted with honesty and integrity.

    To live as people brought near by the blood of Christ means to hold yourself and others accountable for division and pain and hurt. Anna would continue her call for justice. She would claim the power of Christ; stand strong on the foundation laid by Christ and work to ensure Sam would not be able to abuse another child of God.

    † † †

    HINDSIGHT IS AN OPPORTUNITY for correction. “Looking back it didn’t work like I planned. I would definitely do it differently, if I could.”

    In Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, when Jesus died, there were people who mocked him during his trial and crucifixion but looked back with changed attitudes. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

    Again in Matthew: When Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. In hindsight, Judas regretted his actions.

    † † †

    MARTHA WORKED in the office at First Church. She knew Sam pretty well. Martha couldn’t believe the accusation against Sam; didn’t believe it. He was doing such good work with the youth. She sent a letter of support for Sam to the church session and encouraged others to do the same. She was proud of the way she stood up for him.

    With no family nearby, she treated him like a son and continued to believe him and work for his vindication. Until she learned the truth. Sam had indeed acted in criminal ways toward the 16-year-old in youth group. In fact, he had abused at least three other girls.

    Hindsight is 2020.

    Martha struggled with her past actions. She reflected on what had transpired. She saw clearly that she was wrong in her view of Sam and judgment of Anna, who boldly stood up to the powerful charismatic man and the authorities of the church. Martha was ashamed that her actions had hurt these young girls and perhaps had prevented other victims from coming forward.

    Martha asked to meet with the victims. They agreed. That was the first step in the barriers of hostility coming down. Martha confessed her sin and asked for their forgiveness. That day she began to work with them on healing and wholeness.

    † † †

    WHEN ANNA WAS ASKED what would bring her hope for the future, she replied from the Apostle Paul:

    I want us to live as fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

    † † †

    ■ This illustration was inspired by #MeToo Reckoning by Ruth Everhart.…/…/0830845828

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «To live as people brought near by the blood of Christ means to hold yourself and others accountable for division and pain and hurt.»


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    Ephesians 2:11–20
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    Jew, Gentile reconciled through Christ
    11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

    19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.

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    Foley, AL 36535
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