Thursday, February 26, 2015

Backpacks full of stones are heavy. Words for the week, Feb 22 - March 1.

We’re in a focus on forgiveness during Lent at Peace. We're also mostly off the lectionary.
Last week, I preached about the woman who had been caught in the act of adultery and was about to be stoned to death in John 8.  Jesus told the crowds ‘let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.”  One by one, people put their stones down and she was free to go.  Jesus showed compassion for her.  It’s only through God-given compassion that we can forgive one another. 
 
I told a personal story of forgiveness between my father and me.  For years, I experienced the lack of forgiveness between us like a heavy backpack of stones.  I could always reach in and find an old hurt to hurl at him.  I was always worried that something I’d done would be flung at me.  The burden of carrying all those hurts weighed me down.  When I decided to ask for and offer forgiveness, it was a huge relief.  As we both set our backpack of stones down, we allowed for the past to remain the past and for the future to be something new.
 
Listen to the sermon here:
 
This week, I will preach about the decision we all have, in the face of hurt, to choose to harm or choose to heal.  Drawing on two Biblical stories of brothers, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 32) and The Prodigal Son and Older Brother (Luke 15), we’ll see how God’s future comes through healing, not through revenge.  Healing isn’t easy and it can take time, sometimes years.  Throughout the process, God is with us, empowering us, every step of the way. 
 
Questions:
  1. In the world, where do you see people clamor for revenge?
  2. If you forgive, is that the same as letting someone off the hook?  Have you ever withheld forgiveness because you were concerned about being fair?
  3. When have you experienced a homecoming like the one the father offers his prodigal son?
 
Be at peace,
Pastor Sarah

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