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“This evening at 7pm there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.” I smile when reading the preceding church bulletin blooper. At just about every church I have attended, we have had one or two unofficial church bulletin and newsletter editors whose jobs, as they saw it, was to carefully scan church periodicals and call on the phone to point out errors. And often they would do the same with sermons, although that job was also held by others.

I’m thinking the intent is that all should come prepared to SING? But let’s go with it for a bit. Let’s say the admonition is to come to church, or a church-related activity, prepared to sin. Would anybody really do such? Well I remember at one church I served we had some big shade trees overlooking a corner of the parking lot. A few teenagers developed the habit of parking in that area to smoke pot, until one day I walked over and kindly asked them to not do so anymore. And I still recall the whiff of air when the guy rolled down his window. It seems they came to the church parking lot to sin! Why do you go to church? Surely the only good reason is to connect with God. So a sinner is very welcome to attend just about anything going on at a church. I love the story told by Jesus of the Pharisee, so haughty and self righteous, who went to the house of worship but never really met God. But in that same place was a Publican (not a Republican!), the dirty-rotten-scoundrel of the day, who smote on his breast and prayed “God be merciful to me, a sinner”. His was the humble attitude that hit the mark! I think you come to church “prepared to sin” when your heart is hard and your focus is on something or someone other than God. You and I are sinners, not unlike the broken man in the story. We all approach God, and church, needing mercy. The closer we come to God, the more broken we should be. Thus, with worship, we celebrate our amazing God and His love.

So let us not come prepared to sin. Instead let us together meet the only One who has overcome our sin, and loves us in spite of our remaining struggles with sin.

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