October 2017  
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9-17-17 Sermon

Father - we come before you knowing that you are a merciful God and will forgive our sins.  We know we need your guidance and your grace.   Bless, I pray, the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts that they may be of profit to us and pleasing to afraid to take the risk.  All of us, You, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen

So many people live with broken relationships because they are unwilling to try, they are without exception have experienced and know the pain!  Chances are every person here is dealing with a broken relationship with someone that they cared about or someone you love.

Now no doubt, you have your reasons and they make sense to you! If you were to sit down and tell them to a friend it is likely that they would agree with you. BUT, imagine sitting down with Jesus and you told Jesus your reasons and you tried to justify to him the reasons for continuing with that broken relationship, what would the- Lord say to you?   

Would Jesus say, "Well done, good and faithful servant"? OR. Would Jesus say, "For your own good, you need to get back in the game and work it out"? Our Lord wants us to heal these relationships, and he makes it possible for us through his grace and forgiveness.     

What can be done by Christians to heal broken relationships?  Broken relationships are nothing new. They go all the way back to the Garden of Eden where God called to Adam and Eve right after they have eaten the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wanted to know what had happened.  Adam was quick to shift the blame to Eve.   Eve, not wanting to get left holding the bag, shifted the blame to the serpent.  Can you imagine the argument between Adam and Eve as they are kicked out of the Garden? Eve saying to Adam, “Where do you get off blaming me?” and so it begins.                                                                                  

Secondly, everyone is hurt by the broken relationship. It doesn’t matter who’s at fault.  We are hurt whether we caused the hurt or the other person did.  From our 1st lesson for today, if anyone ever had reason to hold a grudge, Joseph did.                                          

He also had the power to exact revenge. He was then the second most powerful person in Egypt could have had his brothers executed and nobody would have batted an eye. Yet Joseph knew the grace of God and refused to judge, asking, “Am I in the place of God?”   Joseph’s pride and sense of fairness demanded retribution, but instead Joseph grasped the grace of God and restored his relationship with his brothers. He was better for it and experienced the healing God wants for all of us.                                         

What can be done by Christians to reach that place of healing broken relationships? As Jesus tells the parable of the two slaves, we must recognize that we are sinners!   None of us hold the moral high ground.   None of us has grounds to judge!           

The king is of course God and we owe God a debt we can never repay! The sin of a brother or sister is miniscule by comparison, yet we would dare to hold that debt against them.  But through Jesus Christ, God forgives us and helps us forgive others.            

Frederick Buechner, noted theologian, says of this, “…God’s forgiveness is not conditional upon our forgiving others. Just fair warning: forgiveness that has conditions isn’t really forgiveness at all. Pride keeps us from forgiving & it’s our unforgiving attitude of which God needs to forgive us most. It is the very same pride which keeps us from accepting forgiveness, and pray God help us do something about it."(Frederick Buechner; Wishful Thinking, A Theological ABC; Page 29.)                                                                          

We are to be a part of a Christian faith community that practices forgiveness—not dwelling on holding a grudge. Christ is the source of hope for hurting people in a hurting world.                                                                                                                                                  

Forgiving someone is no small matter. It is hard to forgive someone who hurt you, who failed you, who let you down. Even the apostle Paul struggled with this same issue,  “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:15, 17-19).                                                                                           

We fail. As a result we hurt each other and relationships become estranged or broken.  If we could only remember that every person is someone for whom Jesus died, we’d have the antidote for resentment.  God doesn't keep track of our sins. And neither should we with others.                                                                                                                                                                               

We can come to God to get a fresh start each day --put the past behind us.  Only because of the mercy towards us, is it possible for us to show the mercy towards others.  Sometimes of course - distance - or death - keep us from reconciliation.   Sometimes our forgiveness is not accepted.  It is then, when things are beyond us - we pray "Lord, I can't fix this.  Would you please do it for me? Take this hurt from me and bring your gift of healing."                                                                                                                       

In Jesus Christ, forgiveness is a reality and our hope for life together and with our God forever.