Summary: In the Lord’s Prayer we pray "forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin agianst us." It is not easy. We do not pretend to do it well, but forgiveness is a primary act of faith if we are to follow and imitate Jesus. the sermon includes the outlin

In Jesus Holy Name August 1, 2010

Text: Luke 4:11 Pentecost X - Redeemer

“Can You Bury the Hatchet?”

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Sometimes I listen to Country Music. The songs in Country Music, whether sung by Johnny Cash, Tanaya Twain, Alan Jackson, Taylor Swift certainly put words to music that express the hurts and sorrows of life. During the Country Music awards I watched Sugarland sing their hit record….. oblivious to the audience her words poured out her pain. Tears flowed down her face as she pleaded for her lover “don’t leave my bed for hers.” It made me wonder if she had experienced the pain of love gone astray.

I realize that Country Music may not be the best resource for Christian Theology but one certainly can identify with the emotional pain. Garth Brooks sang a song a few years back that made me wonder how well I was obeying the words of the Lord’s Prayer. The words in his song went like this “We buried the hatchet, but left the handle sticking out.” When we review the Lord’s Prayer maybe we have to ask ourselves…..Have we offered forgiveness… but left the handle sticking out of the ground?

“The primary act of faith is forgiving. It is the characteristic act of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. If we follow him in faith, it is the first thing we do in our following. It is the one thing we do in faith which we would not do if we had no faith. Forgiving is what we do if we want to put meaning and purpose back into our lives.” (from Seventy Times Seven Robert Hoyer)

Our Lord has challenged us. When we have been wronged, when we have been hurt when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are promising “too bury the handle of the hatchet along with the hatchet.” For if we leave the handle sticking out of the ground… it means we have failed in our act of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the ultimate test of love when someone hurts you. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” Love does not keep score. One guy said: “When my wife and I get into an argument she gets historical. The other guy says: “you mean hysterical?” No. “Historical”, she tells me everything I’ve ever done wrong.” Love does not keep a record of wrongs.

Unfortunately sometimes we do. We leave the handle of the ax out of the ground. We keep a record of the wrongs so we have ammunition when others hurt us. But the bible says that love does not do that.

In your bulletin this morning is a questionnaire I want you to fill out.

( read each question and let them mark their answer.)

The act of forgiving involves words between people. It is not private like prayer or giving to the poor. Forgiving is not a moral act done in obedience to a law or custom. Forgiving is an act of faith. I forgive, when I forgive, because I am a disciple of Jesus. As a follower of Jesus I am expected to imitate Him.

It is not easy. I do not pretend to do it well. Nor does anyone else I know! I have experienced the forgiveness of Jesus. I have heard his words. When I forgive, my heart and emotions will experience peace. I will be able to sleep at night. If I don’t forgive…then anger, and bitterness will fill my soul. Happiness will elude me…. The same is true for you.

Cain did not forgive his brother. God warned him; saying, “…if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:6,7)

Cain invited his brother out into the field…and there “rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” God spoke again and asked Cain where his brother was. Cain, who could not forgive …. Justified himself and said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God banished Cain from his crops, his family, and he became a wandering nomad.

Jesus invites us to listen to his words. He invites us to speak words of forgiveness to others, for they are words that will create “the kingdom of heaven” where grace is at work.

The primary act of faith is forgiving. It is the characteristic act of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. If we follow him in faith, it is the first thing we do in our following. It is the one thing we are reminded to do…each and every time we pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven….forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sin against us…” Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are reminding ourselves to “imitate Jesus” by forgiving others just as we have been forgiven. (Ephesians 5:1)

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