"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51v10-12, The Bible.
Church meeting this morning took us back to the aftermath of King David's adultery with Bathsheba, words David writes after Nathan has confronted him with the depths of the evil he has committed.
Being reminded of these things gives me no reason to stand superior to him. In my own ways I am as evil. As David says, it is against God that he has sinned (v4). Yes, we wrong each other time and again but our true offense is against God. To be confronted again with this highlights the serious peril of the human condition as most of humanity continues to pursue independence from God. Against God have we sinned.
Talking over coffee we considered the ease with which we seem to be able to omit the above from our message. It is deeply unpopular. And yet it is central. I spoke at the Reading University International Cafe (Small World Cafe) last week, interpreting a Nativity play, unpacking the words of the Angel - Good News of Great Joy - A Saviour, Christ the Lord. And yet this news carries no appeal or apparent usefulness to us if we see no need of a saviour.
This news however is only good when we know the favour of God upon us. Only when we are called into repentance from our sin. Only when we call out to God for a new heart, a steadfast spirit, his lasting presence by the Holy Spirit. Only then do we know the true joy of salvation.
Our offenses against God are not overlooked. They cannot be taken lightly. Christmas brings good news of great joy because the baby is born to grow up and die. The one who comes from God proves himself as such. The one who is innocent dies in the place of us the guilty ones, if we would only look to him for rescue in our time of great peril.