Second Sunday of Lent
from James 5
(take a look at Circle of Lent 1/5 for intro to series)
• First picture is two folks walking. In this picture possibly equals. Maybe married couple, maybe friends, maybe pastor and member.. two beings in relationship with each other, walking together in harmony. In unity. Same path.
• God wants your life to be in step with God and full and very good. Allow your life to be full and very good by seeking to be in step with God. Remember your purpose and seek to order your life.
• The new picture is of people stopped... a "sinner" who has left the chosen path, and a "righteous" one who has remained on the path. Today we'll look at each person's point of view.
• Says the “righteous” one: I do not count it against you that you walked in a different direction and that you hurt Harmony. I do not want that to be a barrier to our relationship. In other words, I forgive you. You don’t owe me. I waive my right to demand, receive, or expect restitution, you do not need to pay me back.
Forgiveness is NOT approving or condoning, it is NOT granting license to the sinner to sin. It is seeking and affirming relationship. Saying I choose not to hold a grudge (which is empty forgiveness at best).
• In many ways forgiveness is like love as described in 1 Cor 13:4-8… forgive me a little license:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Repeat reading, replacing "love" with "Forgiveness".
• Forgiveness is not easy but it is necessary. We cannot simultaneously hold on to what separates other people from us and receive forgiveness mercy and grace from God or others. Consider what many would probably put in the top three relationship sins: infidelity. Only through forgiveness does the possibility of reconciliation exist; without forgiveness the broken relationship is irreparable.
Forgiveness not easy but necessary, and not necessarily deserved, but it is to be granted freely and without strings attached. It is good to be reminded of Jesus’ words that we cannot be forgiven if we ourselves do not forgive.
• Same picture, other point of view. Sinner has stopped. Why? By grace of God, sinner realizes and acknowledges sin. “I admit that I am not walking in the right direction. I admit that I am hurting Harmony.”
(Repeat out loud: by grace of God are we able to recognize our sin.)
• Sinner confesses. To whom? To self. You’d be amazed the power of speaking these words out loud, even if alone.
To God. As a part of prayer.
And if possible to the offended party.
• Why did I speak on forgiveness first? Well I had to do one first, and it’s important to me that forgiveness be independent of conditions, including confession. Plus I’ll deal with sinner next week too, as confession leads to repentance.
• Scripture, reading from James which is about community of faith & solidarity. Both are actions at the beginning of the road to recovery of community.
• Homework: this week. Confess something. Forgive something.
• Hymn 505 Love Lifted Me