The Talking Pew: Don’t Tell Me I’m a Sinner — Even If I Am

And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins . . . .   – Mark 1:5,7

By Barbara Falconer Newhall


There’s that word again. According to my copy of Strong’s concordance, the word sin
appears in the Bible something like four hundred times.

There’s a lot of judgment in our Bible and every time I bump up against the word sin, I
am left to wonder, does God ever arrive in our lives loving us for our own sweet selves, warts and all, God’s own imperfect but lovable creations?

I don’t like being told that I’m a sinner. When I feel judged, I shut down, and it becomes impossible for me to consider my shortcomings with any kind of rigor or detachment.

I suspect that many of the first century Judeans of Mark’s gospel were no different. I can’t imagine that they rushed out to the desert from all over the countryside and all over Jerusalem to have judgment rained upon them by a locust-eating wild man.

John the Baptist must have been offering them something more.


John promised that someone else was coming, someone more powerful than he.

What kind of power would that be?

Text and photo © 2011 BF Newhall

You can find the scripture readings for Sunday, December 4, 2011, (Advent 2, Revised Common Lectionary, Year B) at

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2,  8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8


Subscribe To Site:
This entry was posted in Wrestling with the Bible and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework