Summary: 27 Ordinary, Year C, Worldwide Communion A sermon to remind us not to question the job that God has called us to do.
Luke 17:3-17 & 2 Timothy 18-14
Children’s Sermon - play "Simon Says" and discuss what happens if you do something that Simon didn’t say to do. Are you "out" of the game forever? How is this like life in Christ? How is repentance and forgiveness like getting a second chance?
So, until the children’s sermon today, had you ever thought of life as being one big game of “Simon Says”? Although rather than Simon Says, life is really a game of “God Says.” God tells us to do something and we are supposed to do it - without question or hesitation.
However, if given the option, most people would choose to be the “Simon” - the one telling others what to do. The one who is in control. The one who makes the rules of the game. Be honest, even though we don’t always admit it and even though we may not want all the responsibility, deep down inside, each of us wants to be #1. We all like to be the master of others. But what the scripture readings this morning remind us is that we are NOT now nor will we ever be the master of our life or of the lives of others. We are not the ones to be served, rather we are the ones called to do the serving. And as servants of the Lord, there are certain duties that we must do, whether we like it or not.
In the opening verses of Luke 17, Jesus tells his disciples, If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times he comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.
To this idea of abundant forgiveness, the disciples reply – Lord, increase our faith!
Jesus then reminds the disciples that forgiveness and faith are not options, but they are duties of a servant of the Lord. We can’t pick and choose who and when we forgive. Whenever someone repents (even if they repent seven times a day or with their very last earthly breath) we are to forgive them. Faith in our Master is trusting his ways – and if that means forgiving and forgiving and forgiving, then that is what we must do!
This past week marked a horrific anniversary for an Amish community in Southeast Pennsylvania. Last year on October 2nd, a man walked into a one-room school house and shot eleven girls, killing five of them and then himself. Just days after the shooting, while the community was still grieving, and while the world was reaching out to the Amish and to the families of the girls, the Amish community was reaching out to the gunman’s widow and young children. Many of them attended his funeral the day after attending their daughters’ and just last month they set up a fund to provide financial support for his family.
As some reporters have covered this story, they have asked the question why? Why would the Amish community – who is still grieving this tragedy – reach out to the family of the one whom inflicted this wound? The reason? – because the Amish are living according to the way God would want them to live. They have collectively as a community made the choice to do their duty as servants of the Lord and act out their forgiveness. Does it mean they don’t still grieve and hurt? Absolutely not. The reality is that the families are still living daily with reminders of the world gone crazy. But, the witness to Christ that the Amish community has made is truly a witness that this world needs.
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy - Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord…for I know [in] whom I believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Too many Christians in today’s world are ashamed to stand up for their faith. Too many of us are ashamed to live our faith. Too many of us have been jaded by the world and by the ideas of the world. Too many of us are not listening to God’s command to be servants and witnesses in the way we live.
The Amish didn’t need the school shooting to live the way God has called them to live as witnesses in the world. Having lived close to an Amish community in Central Pennsylvania, I can tell you that they daily they live their servanthood – serving God and others without complaint or question. And for those of us English (or outsiders) around them, the witness of faith that the Amish community provides is very evident. However, through this tragedy, the world was able to see faith, hope, forgiveness and the love of Christ at work in the world through a very private people.