Why the joy of Christmas? A star in the sky? Angels singing “Peace on earth”? Magi with gifts? Shepherds? Lost in the celebration is the most magnificent news: The angel tells Joseph about his son-to-be: “You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from his sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
I don’t know where your list “sin list” starts or ends or if even have a list. For some people it is sin, for others it is character defects or addictions or temporary insanity or simply human nature. Some say we can get better on our own. Others believe that in “simpler days” there were fewer sins.
At any rate, the Christmas story is joyful because Jesus saves us from our sins. Period.
And in case you can’t determine whether there’s a sin/bad habit/demented behavior/character flaw from which you need rescuing, here’s an incomplete list of what is or used to be or might be (depending on the definition and the circumstance) sin:
Smoking, drinking, dancing, card playing, gambling, cursing, taking the Lord’s name in vain, fornication, anger, greed, pride, lying, carousing, judging, presumption, concupiscence, gluttony, apathy, lust, murder, theft, selfishness, lying, smugness, blindness to the poor, making war on civilians, making war on anybody, disrespect, cruelty to animals, laziness, evicting God from the center, failing to remove the log from one’s eye, dismissing sin, calling evil good, relishing evil, schadenfreude, gossiping, usury, seeking to wield power in church, seeking to wield power outside church, arrogance, prejudice, hatred, brutality, ingratitude, child exploitation, slavery, pornography, turning a blind eye to the homeless, reneging on promises, putting self over others, hypocrisy, spamming, cheating on taxes, cheating on wife, cheating on husband, cheating on anything, going offshore to avoid taxes, elevating self over others, taking revenge, superciliousness, denying the Holy Spirit, failing to keep Sabbath, degrading the environment, making and stockpiling nuclear or chemical weapons, genocide, condoning lousy schools, having cold shoulders, closed hands, blind eyes or loveless hearts, mean spirited humor, narrow minds, locked doors, stubbornness, intolerance, refusing to acknowledge, recognize or submit to authority, profiteering, hacking, spying, eavesdropping, betraying public trust, cowardice, setting oneself up as God, denying or refusing to follow Christ, strife, enmity, party spirit, putting people in categories, spitting in public.
Some on this list are contradictory. Some are only suggestive. Some are broad categories with many subcategories. Some might be illegal but not be sin. Others might be sin but not illegal. Some are Big Sins while others are small sins. Some venal, others mortal. All revert to Adam and Eve’s garden disobedience.
We can get trapped deeply in the sin thickets. That’s not today’s point. If I’ve left your sin(s) off the list, you know what they are anyway. Give thanks for the good news: His name is Jesus and he will save his people from his sins. All sins. All people.
Creede Hinshaw, of Macon, is a retired Methodist minister.