Sunday, 24 July 2016

Sermon 24 July: Forgiving and forgiven

Matthew 18:1-6 &  Ephesians 4:25-32 

We reach the third week of four on our series on the Lord’s Prayer – for me it has been a revelation, as I have heard two really great reflections on the opening lines.
Hearing others’ reflections is always helpful and I am blessed to be able to receive that blessing during the summer months.
This week we reach the thorny issue of forgiveness.
It would be very easy to be distracted by the word debts, and focus only on one aspect – money.
Of course this really has absolutely nothing to do with financial debt, and everything to do with personal, indebtedness; the things we do which are so very difficult to undo.
And, the things done to us which we find so hard to let go of… and there’s the rub.
If we want God to forgive us; to wipe the slate clean and help us make a fresh start, then we need to start with our relationship with others.
The words in the prayer are very specific: forgive us, as we forgive others.

Today is all about family. We have just welcomed this darling wee boy into God’s family – our family; we have witnessed as his parents promise to love him and cherish him, and we all feel the joy and wonder of this occasion.
Baptism is the physical sign of something much deeper; in it we are reminded of all that God, in Christ did for us.
Jesus was baptised
He lived, and died and rose again – so that we could have these promises: to be part of God’s family.
He taught us to pray: and when we pray he taught us to acknowledge that we need to forgive just as much as we need to be forgiven.

If I hurt you and simply say, it’s ok, God’s forgiven me for the hurt, but don’t make it right with you too, then I am not worthy of that gift from God.
If I truly want to know forgiveness, I must make good on the whole thing.
It’s that simple.

Forgiveness, like so many other parts of our relationships, is a two-way thing.
And sometimes. Sometimes even if we don’t feel we are in the wrong, to save the relationship, or to preserve the spirit, we have to make the first step.
Speak up
Speak out
Build the bridges
Live the love
Be the one who is big enough, brave enough to say – hey, I’m sorry.
This is painful to us all; can we start over? Make it better? Try again?

When we welcome babies, or people of any age into the church we are affirming that we are all in this together.
We are all part of one big family.
And we all know families can be both the best and the worst!!

When families fall out – it can sometimes be hardest, the slowest to heal.
But when families stick together – they show the strongest bond that exists.

As we welcome wee Byron into the church family; we do more than just witness one simple action.
We promise to pray for him; his family and all God’s children.
That means we are promising again to pray for each other; to pray for those we love, and those we find difficult; we are promising that in all things, we trust in God, to find a way through the mess of difficult things, into the promise of new and wondrous things.
In all the different version of the Lord’s prayer (which you can see again at Hy 652) – forgive us includes: debts, sins, trespasses… how we choose to live it is up to us.
How we choose to receive it – that’s for us too!
Open armed
For as we forgive, so may God forgive us too.
And that’s something to rejoice over!

Byron George -  bless your walk in this world; may you find in all your relationships – over a long and blessed life – forgiveness, understanding, compassion and true acceptance.