SERMON TITLE: “The Seven Deadly Sins: Envy”
SERMON TEXT: Genesis 37:1-11, 26-28
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: March 8, 2020, at First UMC
Welcome to the season of Lent. I know. Those of you who were here on Ash Wednesday and last Sunday are already on board. No doubt, some of you have already been faithfully practicing your Lenten disciplines of giving up some kind of favorite food or other bad habit, or maybe you’ve been more-intentionally practicing a positive spiritual habit like daily devotions of prayer and Bible reading. But maybe some others of you, like me, have been away on vacation or otherwise occupied in activities and thoughts, and maybe you are just now realizing that we are no longer in Kansas or Oregon or any kind of ordinary time. Instead, we have entered that sacred season of spiritual preparation in which Christians have traditionally repented of their sins and purified their hearts before the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion and the victorious celebration of his resurrection.
In late January, when I began thinking about a sermon series for Lent, we were just beginning to hear about the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. By February 6, there were already more than 28,000 confirmed cases and 563 dead. About that same time, we learned of the quarantine on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, and I read an explanation that the word “quarantine” comes from the Latin word for 40. “Aha!” I thought. The ancient practice of a 40-day quarantine and the Christian tradition of a 40-day Lent are really quite similar. One is to limit and heal sickness. The other is to limit and heal sin. And that flight of thought led me to plan this year’s Lenten focus on “The Seven Deadly Sins.”
As of yesterday afternoon, the coronavirus had infected over 105,000 people around the world—and killed over 3500 people—19 of them in the United States. Until a couple days ago, we here in Utah were feeling pretty safe. But now we know of a case in Davis County, and we all need to step up our sanitation and hygiene efforts to keep the Coronavirus from spreading through the community.
But, as Christians, we also need to do whatever we can to mitigate the spiritually deadly effects of sin in our lives. There are a lot of sins that we could talk about. But, since way back in the 4th century, there has been a classical list of sins that have been considered especially detrimental to our human well-being. In my absence, Rev. Olga Hard covered two of them with you already: Gluttony on Ash Wednesday and Sloth last Sunday. In upcoming services, we’ll cover Wrath, Greed, Lust, and Pride. Today, though, I want us to look at the deadly sin of Envy.