Wine Before Breakfast – Sin, Grace and What “Everybody Knows”

There was something sassy about how she delivered the lines. If you were there, you would know exactly what I mean. And only our own beloved Deb Whalen could actually pull off those lines in church:

“Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows”

The scene was, of course, our service last week at the Church of the Redeemer in which we highlighted the music and poetry of Mr. Leonard Cohen.

A couple of verses later, we hear,

“Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows”

But Cohen isn’t just talking about the sexual practices of late modern society.

No, sexuality is just a leading symptom in a much larger problem of what everybody knows.

To borrow a line from Bob Dylan, everybody knows that “everything is broken.”

The brokenness goes all the way down. It permeates every dimension of life and it runs through the heart of every one of us.

So let’s bring Bono into the conversation.

Bono knows that what goes around comes around. Every action creates a reaction and, well, all the shit of our lives simply seems to create more shit. And, whether this is fair to Hinduism, Bono calls this “karma.”

And, for Bono, this sense of karma, this sense that evil begets evil in a deathly spiral of destruction is something that everybody knows.

But what we need to know, this Irish rock star insists, is something called grace.

She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name”

But here’s the thing about grace,

“She travels outside of karma.”

Commenting on all of this Bono has said:

“It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that ….

Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff. … I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep shit. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace.”

And that’s why Bono can sing:

“What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things”

At the heart of it, I think that this is what St. Paul is on about in this week’s text from Romans (3.9-31).

We’re all in this tragic mess of brokenness together.
We’re all in this morass of sin together.
We’re all in this shit together.
We’re all unfaithful and there’s going to be a meter on our bed that will disclose
what everybody knows.

Or as Paul put it “since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
we can only be made just,
we can only regain that glory,
we can only embrace anew who we were always called to be,
by receiving “the grace of God as a gift.”

So I am afraid that once again, we can only welcome sinners to Wine Before Breakfast this week. If that isn’t you, then really we have nothing to offer you at such an early hour of the day.

But if you know about yourself what everybody else already knows about you (especially those closest to you), if you know that you are in the same mess of brokenness as the rest of us, then come on out to the party for sinners. We’ll have some bread and some wine that just might help mediate some grace into your life.

Deb and the bandhood have got some classic hymns and some evocative songs from a more contemporary canon cooking for us.
Mike Walker has crafted some prayers.
And Liska Stefko from the Church of the Redeemer will lead our Eucharist.

In the solidarity of sin and (thank God) of Grace,

Brian Walsh

Wine Before Breakfast
Tuesday, October 23 @ 7.22am
Wycliffe College