Sunday, July 07, 2013

Sermon for 7/7/13--Trinity 6



Forgiven and Forgotten

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

The world is full of people who don’t think of themselves as murderers. So is the Church. As far as I know, no one in this congregation has felony homicide on their criminal record. We haven't shot anybody or run anyone over with our car, and that makes us comfortable with thinking we're in the clear. We ought to know better. Jesus teaches us quite clearly—and the Catechism drives the point home—if we are angry with another person, if we are resentful and bear them a grudge, if we are upset at them and don't want to get over it, then we are murderers. I don't know of anyone here that has taken a life, but I do know that all of us have been or may still be mad at someone. We harbor anger, resentment, bitterness, bad feelings, hatred and malice in our hearts against them. And yet there is no one who would stand up and say, "I don't forgive them." Of course you forgive them! You just don't forget what they've said or done. No one here would say they aren't a forgiving person. But a person's actions have consequences. If you sin against me, I will forgive you, but I won't forget. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you think that way, believe that way, act that way, you are not forgiving. Ask yourself this question: Do you want God to forgive you and not forget? The baptized child of God doesn't play such games.

But Jesus saves murderers. Just ask Barabbas. Barabbas was set free and Jesus went to the cross in his place. Jesus never murders anyone. His words save. His life saves. His death saves. Jesus obeys the Father's will to come and pay the price for your sins. On Cavalry, Jesus sheds His blood. And Jesus rises the third day, leaving your sins in the grave. When Christ rises from the dead on Easter, your sins are not just forgiven; they are forgotten. Jesus comes to show His own righteousness which is beyond the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. With His righteousness, sins aren't remembered by God. Pharisees that we are, we want to say we forgive, but we hang on to anger and resentment. Our heavenly Father doesn't work that way. He can't—Christ stands between us and the judgment against sins. Where Christ is, there our sins are forgotten. What has been paid for by the blood of Christ is not later pulled out and thrown back in your face. The Lord doesn't work that way. When your sins are forgiven, they are forgotten, washed away by the blood of Christ and left in the tomb.

St. Paul writes that we are a new creation through our baptism into Christ. Through Baptism, spoken again in absolution, and put into you in the Supper, God not only forgives your sins but forgets them too. And now, with our sins forgiven and forgotten by the Lord, the Spirit works in you to forgive and forget the sins of others. Jesus says that if we are going to the altar and remember that someone has something against us, we should go and make peace. When you walk out of church today, will you still be mad at me for what I've said or done? Will you still be mad at someone in your family? Someone here in church? Someone at work? Will you go out with the memory of how you have been wronged and hurt? Repent of making anger your god. When you hear the word of holy absolution, when you eat and drink the body and blood of Jesus, you walk out that door with your Lord knowing nothing about your sins. He has forgotten them. You, too, go out that door as the Lord has treated you—not remembering what others have done to you, but forgiving and forgetting all together in Christ.

You are a new creation. Your sins are dead with Christ. You have been raised and made new in the Baptism Jesus gives you. That is righteousness that goes far beyond the scribes and Pharisees. That's Good News for you, and it’s good news for your neighbor who needs their sins to be forgiven and forgotten, just as yours have been in Jesus Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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