Scripture: Luke 13:1-3 (NRSV)

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, 'Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.


Ever notice how we blame others for our failures and take credit for our successes? OK, maybe that's just me. From where I sit, I've got a clear view of everything I do to make good. I know all my best intentions; I see all the steps I've taken, so I can pat myself on the back, every step of the way. What's less clear (or what I'm less inclined to scrutinize) are the failures - failure to act, failure to notice, or to own the pain that I cause. "What, you think that was my doing? Don't be silly. That other guy got in the way… No one told me… I didn't mean to… I woulda done that really important thing, but the forces of the universe where stacked against me that day."

This mental myopia often works in reverse when we're looking at others, especially when their failures affect us. "What were you thinking? It was your poor planning that got us into this mess. You brought it on yourself. How could you do that? Shame on you."

In fact, says Jesus, it's "Shame on us." ALL of us. Because we all screw up, all the time. We've got to spend less time pointing fingers and more time owning up. Take a good hard look at those blind spots and practice saying, "My bad. I'm sorry. I've made a mistake."

Actually, "shame" may be the wrong word. Brené Brown says 'guilt' is feeling bad about what we've done, and 'shame' is feeling bad about who we are. Jesus says do the former. Scrutinize your inaction, your wrong action, and then, make a change. Turn back towards wholeness. In other words: repent.

This takes courage. But here's the good news: someone is rooting for us. Christ loves us enough to keep at us, tenderly, persistently inviting us to bear fruit.


Dear God: When I take all the credit, forgive me. When I refuse the blame, forgive that, too. Give me eyes to see you at work in my life. Then give me the courage to grow. Amen.

Alison J. Buttrick Patton

pastor of Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC in Westport

February 24, 2016
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