Summary: Through chickens, babel and the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, this sermon seeks to unpack the nature of sin, but also how God does not leave us there.

The following sermon was given when I was invited to preach at the nearby church of St Joseph the Worker Northolt on Sunday 10th June 2018

You folks really know how to win friends and influence people. You invite Fr Mund, a more unsuspecting local priest to come and preach, and then you give him passages on SIN… thanks a bunch!

Five themes that emerged for me looking at both the passage from Genesis and from the gospel -

1) Sin sticks to all of us

2) Sin sucks away intimacy

3) Sin seeks to shift the blame

4) Sin sells a lie

5) Sin spirals

But also - (6) sin does not have the final word!

Sin sticks to all of us

a lady went to her butcher to buy a chicken. The honest man put the bird on the scale, announced the weight and was told, “That’s a little small, do you have another one?” He went back to the cooler and found out this chicken was his only chicken. Not wishing to lose the sale, the normally honest butcher took the same chicken, put it on the scale and added a little pressure from his thumb. He shared the new inflated weight with his customer who said, “That’s wonderful, I’ll take them both.” (1)

The butcher could be a very honest man - but it so easy to be tempted into our to doing something wrong. Genesis 3 is the story of original sin - and the point of the story is that like some disease once sin had got into the world we have all caught it. As St Paul writes in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and falled short of the glory of God”

Look at the Gospel reading - Our Lady and Jesus’s brothers. Our lady who is described elsewhere in the bible as “Blessed among women” and the one whom “all generations shall call blessed”. The first Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit who comes upon her at the conception of Jesus. Our Lady present on the day of Pentecost when the Spriit came down with the 12 disciples and the the Brothers of Jesus including James. James who will be first bishop of Jerusalem. James who would write a letter of the bible. Yet even these amazing people - When Jesus becomes a bit embarrassing and people are saying he is mad, they try to “restrain him” and stop him doing the work of God.

If even amazing Christians like that can sin, it is not surprising the rest of us do.

Sin sticks to all of us .

2) Sin sucks away intimacy.

If you go around Italy you can find beautiful renaissance statues which two hundred years later had stone fig leafs added to cover the “naughty bits”. But why should Christians be prudish? Renaissance Christians made lots of nudes because if the human form was in the image of God, surely the nude was the highest example of that? Why be embarrassed about sex.

Yet of course these stone fig leaves added to statues of David go back to Genesis 3 and Adam and Eve sow fig leaves together to hide their willies and boobies. Before they ate the apple this first husband and wife had happily wandered unashamed naked around the garden of Eden. But once sin comes into the world they are ashamed. They hide their privates from each other with fig leaves, and try to hide themselves from God among the trees. [duck down below pulpit to mime hiding from God]

Before sin they had total intimacy with each other and total intimacy with God. Now they are trying to hide a part of themselves from a each other and a part of themselves from God. And it is not just the outside part they try to hide. They also hide something of the inside. Sin makes us all put up masks and hide the real selves we were created to be from each other and from God. We were meant to be totally intimate with God and totally intimate with each other Sin sucks that intimacy away

3)Sin seeks to shift the blame

When God catches Adam and Eve eating the one thing he had told them not to eat, what do they do?

Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the snake, and the snake… didn’t have a leg to stand on.

When my friend Andrew started his first job, one day he got hauled into the bosses office to explain why something had gone wrong. Andrew began to real off a list of all the other people whose fault it was and ..

“Look out there!” points his boss excitedly. [mime it]

Andrew turns towards the window.


“It’s a buck flying past” says his boss.

Lesson learnt. But actually all of us often try to pass the buck.

Go into a prison and interview the inmates - and you won’t be surprised at how many of them reveal to you it’s not their fault they are in there. It is somebody else’s fault.

Yet it is not just prisoners who do that. You and I do that to. A piece of homework for you after this sermon - go and apologise to them for something where you sought to shift the blame to them when it was your fault.

But imagine a situation that was different.

Imagine how wonderful it would be to be in work place where your boss took the rap for your mistake. “It’s my team - it’s my responsibility” she says as she stands by you and protects. Wouldn’t that be a great employer to work for?

Yet the story of the Gospel is that Jesus takes the rap for our wrongdoing. On the cross he takes the consequences of all our sins.

Sin seeks to shift the blame - [pointing to the church crucifix as I say this] - but on the cross Jesus takes the blame and dies for not his own sins - but our sins.

4) sin sells a lie

Those of you who have read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know the Babel fish that you put in your ear and translates any language

“Now, {says the guide} it is such a bizarrely

improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have

evolved purely by chance that some have chosen to see it as the final proof of

the NON-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am


"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance.It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. QED"

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”

Yet the story of sin is the story of people trying to prove that black is white, and getting themselves or humanity as a whole run over on the next metaphorical Zebra crossing.

In our Gospel reading - Jesus has been healing people. People who had been oppressed by unclean spirits and had their lives ruined. Think of the Gerasene demoniac, possessed by a 1000 demons. He runs around in rags, dirty, tearing his hair and cutting himself, sleeping among gravestones. And Jesus heals him. And now he and others like him live normal healthy lives. (1) You would think that was a good thing - but the scribes don’t. ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’

Some Christians get their knickers in a twist about the “sin against the Holy Spirit”. But what is that sin - it is when you do what the scribes did in this parish. When there is something of the Spirit and you say it is of the Devil - how can you be forgiven because you have shut yourself off from the one who is the source of forgiveness. When you call good evil and black white - how can you be forgiven because you have shut yourself off from the one who is the source of forgiveness.

But that is the lie that sin sells.

5) Sin spirals.

A few weeks back I saw a friends post on Twitter “walking along today when I accidentally swallowed a fly. Oh dear. We know where that ends”

But we all know the story of the old lady who swallows a fly so to try to deal with it swallows a spider then a bird then a cat then a dog then a cow and finally a horse. None of it deals with it - “She’s dead of course”

Genesis chapter 3 is only the first sin we see in the bible. Then we have their children Cain and Abel getting in a row, so Cain murders Abel(3), then we have tower of Babel where the whole human race try to prove themselves better than God and so on and so on.

I quite enjoy watching a good murder on Television. Lewis or Midsummer or Vera or something like that. And in so many cases the murder happens because something else far less bad was done. Then one thing after another is done to cover it up until someone is murdered. Or if not that, then their is a feud and more and more people are murdered.

Sin Spirals.

The story doesn’t stop there - but God spirals it backward - calling together a chosen people, out of those chosen people selecting a tribe, out of that tribe selecting a faithful remnant, out of them selecting a royal line and out of that royal line selecting one man [point to crucifix as I say this] a messiah Jesus, who will put it all right again. Amen?

1) Sin Sticks to all of us

2) Sin sucks away intimacy

3) Sin seeks to shift the blame

4) Sin sells a lie

5) Sin spirals

The lesson of the bible is that once sin has entered the world it spoils the world. Take this cup - perfectly beautiful and usable plate until … [smash plate]

Well that’s it everything’s ruined….

Except that doesn’t have to be the end of the story for this plate.

This [show slide (5)] is kintsugi where broken plate or bowl is repaired by using solder made from pure gold.

Now I have only got a picture. These things cost tens of thousands of pounds. I don’t have a kintsugi because it is too expensive. Imagine that - a repaired broken plate that I can’t afford because it is now too valuable.

But that is what Jesus does with you and me. We are broken by sin. But he puts us back together again - and when we have been put back together, like the kintsugi we are more precious and valuable than we ever were before.

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(1) sermon by Clarence Eismen on this site

(2) Mark 5:1-20, Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:26-37

(3) Genesis 4:1-16

(4) Genesis 11:1-9

(5) Kintsugi image see -

The kintsugi idea was inspired by Archdeacon Justine Allain Chapman at the On Fire conference 2018