A CHOICE (Matthew's Gospel has Jesus address Peter's question about how many times we must forgive those who sin against us in the church. This is a follow up from last week's Gospel in which a way for dealing with sin in the church was offered. If you read the parable Jesus tells you get a sense of how Jesus used exaggeration to make a point. What I have written below reminds us of how our choices create a world of mercy or hell.
If we chose retaliation and revenge rather than forgiveness, we must be prepared to be handed over by our personal and corporate choices to a world of violence and death in an unending cycle of victimizing and victimization. Forgiveness is the God-given and creative process whose many outcomes include life, love, hope, joy, and a peace which passes human understanding that is still tied to violence and slave to death.
But, forgiveness is not easy. It is graciously realistic and calls us to live with God in "cosmic humility" as Richard Rohr calls it.
When you come to church on Sunday you will notice a new set of doors at the main entrance of the church. You will also notice other changes in the flower beds that surround the church. These changes are part of the vestry's decision to have our 121church painted and to improve the look of our flower beds while reducing our use of water.
The painting will begin this Monday under the supervision of Sandy Pringle. We want to thank Sandy for all he does to keep our parish property beautiful and functional.
The doors will soon be painted. Perhaps you have noticed the color of the old doors. These new doors will also be painted red. Why red? Some say it represents the fact that the church mortgage is paid. Others say that it represents to those in need of sanctuary, a place of safety, protection, and peace. Since red is the color of blood and blood is what flows through our veins and gives us life, red doors may also represent that passing through these doors is a passage into life. We may also recall these words from our worship each week:
What do you suppose Jesus is saying to Peter?
Now here is the rest of the passage for this Sunday. What do you make of this parable where mercy and absolute and horrific punishment seem to be the only possible outcomes?
"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, `Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
I look forward to exploring this challenging passage with you on Sunday as we pass through the soon to be red doors.
The front doors of Christ Church open into a small space. My first time through the doors, I found the Jesus icon a silent greeter that seemed to welcome me and other sojourners into the community that bears the name Christ. And every time I come through those doors I am greeted and then embraced by the community.