Pastor Elaine’s 9/11 Sermon

St. Andrew’s Church

9-11-2011

Matthew 18: 21-35

 

A Message of Remembrance, Forgiveness and Hope Ten Years after 9-11 

Ten years ago on this date four planes were the tools of terror – creating destruction and death to parts of the United States of  America.   Ten years ago our own country felt the depths of despair and profound shock and grief.   And as we have been resilient, we have sought also revenge.  As we have created avenues of greater protection we have also lived in a raised state of  fear.  Our kingdom, these Unite States, found its own way to cope, and to live moving forward with it’s own driven  perspective on progress, but not necessary affirmed by hope.

The Bible readings are assigned for today, however, give us a very different message of resilience.  The story of Joseph and his brothers and the parable of Jesus teach about forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the path of healing that is described in God’s kingdom.

Perhaps there is a significant wisdom about this teaching of forgiveness that is shared with us today these ten years later.

On this day we are invited to look back, remember and give pause to grieve the loss and to be thankful for the courageous acts of many.  And we are also called to look forward longing for peace, clinging to hope in order to live forward without fear.

This is the essence of Forgiveness.  For in forgiveness we remember a burden, but release it so that past actions and failures don’t define the future.  We choose to step outside the system of “law” and into God’s system of grace, mercy and love.

So what is forgiveness? Walter Wangerin defines forgiveness ‘as a holy complete unqualified act of giving.”   For it is “for-giving up the right, the legitimate right for revenge, anger violence and hate.  It is “for-giving notice” that a clear hurt has occurred.  It is for speaking truth with compassion.  It is remembering and naming. It is not “forgive and forget.”  And it is “for-giving gifts” of showing compassion and mercy when it is least expected for life to grow.

Forgiveness is about living in the abundance of grace rather that the scarcity of fear.  Jesus says  “seventy times seven”. That’s lots and lots.

The grace of God does not leave us no matter how long this process to forgive may take.  That promise is made sure in it’s hyperbole. For the debt described in the parable is huge. The debt the manager was to forgive was  little in comparison. David Lose, a respected preacher, underlines the hyperbolic exaggeration characteristic of a parable.  No one can live up to this moral demanded because “those who are unable to extend to the mercy they have received from God are already ensnared, trapped and doomed to a life of relentless calculations and emotional scarcity.”  

Yet we know that Divine love does not leave us.  We are like a giant funnel where this love flows into us and out of us for the world.
And if we dam up the love and not allow it to flow through us into the world, we are a “damned” so to speak.  We are already caught.

In allowing the flow of forgiveness to move through us, hope has a chance to grow instead of fear.  In allowing the flow of mercy to move through us for the sake of the world, justice, peace, and loving-kindness can be the healing salve. Life can then be
restored.

As we remember this day 9/11 tens years hence, may we also live into the gift of forgiveness as God’s reign invades the world   This forgiveness is what gives us courage to move into the future with hope. Amen.