Friday, September 9, 2011
Pentecost 13a - Conclusion
I know there will be some who see a more than coincidental connection between the lectionary texts for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost and the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Joseph forgiving brothers who did their best to do him in; the psalmist rejoicing in God who is forgetful when it comes to sin but remembers compassion forever; the Christians in Rome told to stop judging between practices of religious piety because all are directed towards God; and a slave, who doesn’t ask for forgiveness but only more time to pay a debt he knows he cannot pay, is forgiven the entire amount only to turn around and treat a fellow slave with contempt. So is God trying to tell us something? Well, of course. God is always trying to tell us something but that is the nature of the living word. It may be that there are lessons to be learned about how God desires us to live together as the human family and forgiveness is unconditional, for in the end all of creation belongs to God and all people are created in God’s image. But the more appropriate application is that any violence in the name of God is wicked and misrepresents the creator who holds all life sacred. We might preach and teach that all sin is equal in the eyes of God but the actions of the terrorists cannot be compared to the trivial sins we commit. Yes. I said trivial, even though the lies we tell are hurtful to others as well as ourselves and the ripple effects of our prejudice and pride and immorality are a destructive energy of which we cannot see end. But the callous hearts and the evil imagination that perpetrated this crime against the sacredness of life is beyond our ability to understand or in the end forgive. As many of you have come to suspect I believe in heaven more than hell, although I have no doubt every human being will be judged and every last one found guilty. However, I trust God’s forgetfulness when it comes to sin and limiting God’s mercy remembered is beyond my pay grade. Maybe the judgment faced by the terrorists I find it difficult to forgive is that when they expected to be welcomed in eternity as glorious martyrs they came face to face with God who was weeping and in that moment they knew in their very souls how horribly wrong their vision of the Holy was. That sounds a lot like hell to me. Truth to be told I fear my trivial sins will bring me to see the same sight. God help us all.