Central Presbyterian Church

Massillon, Ohio

"The Seven Deadlies: Luxuria"

2 Samuel 11: 1-5

Proverbs 6: 23-35

Well, y’all have been waiting many weeks for this one, the seventh of Pope Gregory’s seven

deadlies; last in order of appearance; first in the poll which asked, “Of the seven deadly sins, which

one do I struggle with the most?”  35%. One in three respondents.  Statistically, that’s pretty significant,

and maybe even underreported.  It should come as no surprise that lust led the poll.  After all, which of

the deadlies garners more enticement from our society and popular culture?  Let’s be frank.  Lust sells,

and big time; bigger yet with each passing decade since that renowned 60’s era of so called “sexual liberation” and “free love.” 

I think there’s a high price being paid.  The Latin word translated lust is luxuria, and serves as the root of an English word:

luxury.  The meaning of this common word pretty well describes the sea change in our cultural worldview over the past

sixty or so years.  Webster’s definition: “indulgence in something which provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease.

”  As Americans, we don’t like to admit this, but we’ve gone in a relatively short period from being one of the most

self-sacrificing societies on earth to one of the most self-indulgent.  And the overwhelming availability of temptation

to lust is symptomatic of something far deeper we’d rather not talk about over coffee at Panera’s.  I’ll return to my soapbox later.

     Let’s take a look at the effect lust and self-indulgence had upon one particular man; a great man;

in fact, the greatest and most powerful king Israel had ever known.  There’s not a lot of context to

be set.  David had done well for himself.  He was overcoming all his enemies.  He had wealth and

prestige, several sons, an intimate relationship with the Almighty. What more could he want?

          (Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5)

"The Seven Deadlies: Accidia"

Matthew 25: 14-30

Proverbs: 10:4; 12:24;13:4; 20:4; 21:25

      We return this morning to our exploration of the so-called seven deadly sins.  So far, we have

covered the sins – or as has been suggested, deadly attitudes which underlie sins – of pride, greed,

envy, gluttony and anger.  This morning, we come to what might be considered the featherweight

of the seven deadlies: accidia; the Latin word we translate sloth.  Every time I hear “sloth,” I think of

that odd critter Stephanie introduced us to in the Children’s Chat which appears to spend its life just

hanging out and snoozing in the trees of the tropical rainforest, seemingly without a care in the

world.  We might be tempted to breeze by this supposedly deadly sin.  After all, how often do we

seriously worry about slumbering ourselves to death.  But the implication of this deadly sin goes far

deeper than over-resting.

"What A Mother Has To Bear"

Luke 2: 25-35;41-51

John 19: 25b-27

      This question is for you moms who are with us this morning.  Have you ever had your heart  

broken by or over your child?  A follow-up question is: How have you recovered from that? 

      I know of at least one occasion my mother’s heart broke over me.  As I’ve shared with you before,

I was no angel when I attended Geneva College in the early 1970’s.  I did some things I’m

not  proud of, and some things I later regretted.  But it was what it was.  [And on the positive side

of the ledger, that is when and where I met my wife and mother of our children, although she was

never a part of those things.  In fact, at that time, she only tolerated me for a few months.  It was

some four years later before we dated again]  At any rate, my mother received a letter one day

from the Dean of Men at Geneva College informing her that I was about to be expelled for repeated

violation of college behavioral policy.  I’ll spare you the details, but Dean Cunningham did not. 

"It's Not About Being in the Same Room"

John 16: 25-33

Romans 8: 38-39

      This morning is our first ever live streamed celebration of Holy Communion.  And I’m not sure

how I feel about it.  On the one hand, I think it’s awesome – miraculous even - that prevented as

we are from being gathered in the same space, we can still be together via the internet, all in real

time.  It’s 10: right here, and it’s 10: where most of you are.  We can still hear the familiar words

of invitation and institution, in real time.  We can still see the elements of loaf and cup on the

table, in real time.  We can still eat the bread and drink the juice, in real time.  We can still bring

our voices to the prayer of thanksgiving at the end of communion, in real time. 

"The Seven Deadlies": IRA

Luke 23: 13-25

Genesis 4: 1-8

On this second Sunday of Eastertide, we turn our attention to the next of the seven deadly sins:

ira; anger in English.  You may recall we discussed the topic of anger a few months ago -- weeks

before this COVID crisis which is now stoking a growing anger; especially among those who are

getting impatient and anxious, and want things to just return to normal.  At that time, we looked at

anger from the practical side, and discussed how we might deal with anger – an emotion we all

struggle with to some degree - in constructive and Christ-like ways.  [if you’re interested in hearing

or reading that message, it’s archived at our website, dated February 9]  This morning, we look at

the same topic more broadly, more theoretically and more theologically; as it is perhaps the most

deadly, or at least the most destructive, of those seven deadlies;  self-destructive to the one carrying anger;

other-destructive to those at whom their anger is directed.

"The Seven Deadlies: Gula"

Ecclesiastes 2: 1-11

Isaiah 28: 1-6

"I Have Seen the Lord"

John 20: 1-10

John 20: 11-18

"Same Old Story"

Luke 19: 29-40, 45-48

Matthew 27: 15-18, 20-23

Psalm 119: 19-29

(Read Luke 19:29-40, 45-48)

      How many of us remember the major drama of the 1994 Winter Olympics? 

The place was Lillehammer, Norway.  The principals were two American figure skaters: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya

Harding. The drama was a physical attack on Kerrigan – a club to the knee – allegedly orchestrated by

Harding’s ex-husband in an attempt to take Kerrigan out of competition, opening the way to a gold

medal for Harding.  As it turned out, Kerrigan recovered and proceeded to win the silver medal

behind Ukranian Oksana Baiul.  Harding finished eighth.  Later that year, Harding was banned by the

U.S. Figure Skating Association.  She went on to become a professional boxer, and later, a contestant

on Dancing with the Stars.  Kerrigan performed with several ice skating troupes, and was a contestant

herself on Dancing with the Stars just a few years ago.

"The Seven Deadlies; Invidia and Avarita

Genesis 4:1-12

Luke 12:13-21

     This morning, we’re going to consider the second and fourth of the seven deadly sins:  envy and

greed.  Dante, the great Italian poet of the late 13th century, has called envy a “sin of perverted love,”

in that it loves what other people possess rather than loving what is good, and beautiful, and true. 

Along those same lines, Dante has grouped greed with lust and gluttony, calling them all sins of

“excessive love of earthly things.”  A few minutes ago, we heard the reading of an Old Testament text

which delivers the first Biblical account of the consequences of envy, exposing it as deadly in both the

literal and the spiritual sense.  Now I would like to share with you a New Testament text – a parable of

of Jesus – which speaks of the sin of greed, and its deadly consequences.

          (Read Luke 12:13-21)

"The Seven Deadlies: Suberbia"

Selections from Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew

Philippians 2: 1-11

      How many of you are familiar with what are called “the seven deadly sins?”  If you come from a Roman

Catholic background, you may know them by heart.  If you’re a lifelong Protestant, you probably

have heard of them, but were never required to memorize them as part of your confirmation process. 

Protestant or Catholic notwithstanding, this is a relevant topic to approach, especially during the liturgical

season of Lent, which calls Christians to authentic practices of spiritual discipline, confession, and penitence.