Sept. 14, 2014 – Forgiveness

Title:Sept. 14, 2014 – Forgiveness

 Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014  (full size gallery)

A lovely Sunday with cooler temperatures in the 60’s and sunshine behind some periodic swirling clouds. A great day to begin the fall schedule! A good number at Church – 43.

Godly Play began with 7 children and our new teacher Callie Towler. Callie did a session on the church seasons and Sundays leading up to individual activities and snacks. The previous Wednesday she met with all the parents. We welcomed the Towler family at the 11am service.

The adults watched an episode from the British comedy "Vicar of Dibley". Yes, a small church with a female rector in a small town. Sound familiar ? Dawn French leads an all-star cast. We served donuts and coffee to get the morning going

During the 11am service, we welcome Emma Cocke’s son, Bill from NY as well as brought Callie up front to meet the congregation. Catherine’s birthday next week was noted. Boyd also announced that Catherine was now the rector. Johnny announced as junior warden that painting of St. Peter’s exterior would be in the next week to 10 days.

Catherine reminded the congregation about the Lyra concert on Tuesday, Sept 16 at 7pm starting out with wine and cheese at 6:30pm.. 

The sermon was a continuation of last Sunday. The readings are here

"So how do we hold one another accountable? We talked about the first part of that answer last week—the importance of creating a safe space of trust and love between one another and also within our community—the intentional work of respecting the dignity of every human being, even when the going gets rough and we find that hard to do. So today we come to the second part of holding one another accountable."

"In today’s gospel, in order to back up his insistence that forgiveness should be a way of life for all of us, Jesus gives us what turns out to be a rather troubling parable in which he compares the kingdom of heaven to this very earthly story of a repeating cycle of hatred and violence in which an unbelievably merciful king forgives the gigantic and unpayable debt of a servant who then goes out and shows no mercy to someone in his debt and actually has that person thrown into prison. And the king, upon hearing of this servant’s lack of mercy, withdraws his own mercy and has the man handed over to be tortured until he can pay his own impossible debt. "

The sermon suggested resources – Power of Forgiveness DVD "and if you want a manual on how to forgive, I’d recommend Desmond Tutu’s new book, The Book of Forgiving, in which he offers what he calls the fourfold path to healing."

For Jesus, it all comes back to that safe space we talked about last Sunday. I’m going to call this the heart space—God’s dwelling space in each of us, the space from which we reach out to others with openness, respect and trust, even in the face of possible rejection, danger or death" 

Commentary on this week’s lectionary from Canon Lance Ousley from the Diocese of Olympia, Washington

"Forgiveness is stewardship of grace, mercy, and love rooted in a theology of abundance. Forgiveness not only is extending grace and mercy to the other who has wronged us, it also is an act of accepting God’s grace ourselves setting our hearts free from self-destructive animosity. It is an humble acknowledgement of our own need for forgiveness and God as the judge of all. Rooted in a theology of abundance, forgiveness puts no limit on love or mercy or grace. Our readings this week address these themes from various situations.

"In the reading option from Genesis, Joseph has a grace-filled response to his brothers’ plea for forgiveness for the wrong they did to him. Joseph’s view of the bigger picture of how their act positioned him to be able to help a large number of people (the Egyptians) and now to be able to help another large group (his kinsmen, the Israelites) is filled with humility in his understanding that a greater good was facilitated through God’s redeeming grace of what they had intended as harm. This broader view of God’s hand at work redeeming his situation for good expanded his heart to love abundantly. He was not burdened by hatred or limited by a need of retribution. He was able to steward the love and mercy extended to him and share it with grace with his brothers. Joseph’s response to his brothers also was undergirded with a gratefulness that he was in a position to be able to help so many.

"Paul focuses his words to the Romans we read this week the need for humility and thankfulness and living our whole lives for God. He emphasizes God’s place as judge of all and our not passing judgment on others, no matter whether that be on a spectrum from their dietary practices or to their mistreatment of us. In recognizing God as God and ourselves as human, we recognize our fellow sisters and brothers as human, too, and all of our need for grace, mercy, and love. In so doing we are empowered to be agents of God stewarding divine grace, mercy, and love in the world.

"Jesus pushes the understanding of the limits of forgiveness in his response to Peter’s question about the number of times one should forgive in this week’s Gospel lesson. Jesus’ response is not founded on and idea of scarcity of grace, but rather the abundance of God’s grace extended to us that we are to share and pass on to others. His response of "seventy times seven" was not to say that the limit of forgiveness is 490 times, but that grace and mercy of forgiveness is to be limitless. Humility and gratitude are key in our receiving forgiveness and then extending it to others. His parable about the unjust slave also illustrates the incarcerating power that a lack of forgiveness can have in our own lives. We find grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy and freedom upon freedom when we forgive those who have sinned against us. We are to steward forgiveness in the world with grateful hearts reflecting the grace and mercy and love that God showers upon us all.  

 Father forgive us, for we know not what we do, and give us grace to forgive others as we have been forgiven that all people may experience the liberation of your love."

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