“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15
While I was in Denver on vacation I had a chance to worship with a new community of Lutherans who have taken for the name of their congregation “House for All – Sinners and Saints.” They meet in a small sanctuary, in folding chairs instead of pews, and the assembly includes people of all ages and experiences. The worship service I attended had us singing some very traditional old Lutheran hymns – and then, during a time of meditation after the sermon, we listened to a track off of an older Coldplay album while journaling or crafting prayers at a variety of stations set up around the room.
Many of the people who worship at House for All – Sinners and Saints have felt excluded or turned away by the mainline church. Conventional wisdom says that seekers like these are repelled by words like “sinner,” but in this Denver community I saw folks wearing t-shirts that read “Sinner” and “Saint” simultaneously.
How are they able to claim the label “sinner” with such pride? I think it has something to do with the passage above from First Timothy that we’ll hear in worship tomorrow. Naming ourselves as sinners doesn’t exclude us from the congregation of the faithful – it’s the price of admission. If you don’t know you’re a sinner, you have no need for the unconditional love, mercy, justice and grace that are God’s free gifts in Christ Jesus. This Homecoming Sunday you are invited to come home to a house God has built for all of us – sinners and saints.