The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lent 1: Suffering Savior's Concern for Sinners

February 21, 2010
First Sunday of Lent

The Suffering Savior’s Concern for Sinners
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

My sermon outline:

• Season of Lent, 40 days in prep for Easter, reconciliation, instruction. Self examination, reflection. Prayer, fasting, self-denial (giving up). Interestingly chocolate and Lent.

Take on a spiritual discipline. Fast and give.

Matthew 6 Jesus warns against practicing acts of piety in front of others, and I tell you my fasts and disciplines not so you’ll ooh and aah over me (but go ahead if you want) but so you’ll have the example of a leader before you who does acts of piety. Not for you, not for me, for God.

& as Ephesians 5, be imitators of God.

During Lent talking on some of the things Jesus said from the cross, today’s on forgiveness...

• Forgiveness in the news this past week with Tiger Woods. Thanksgiving revealed affairs, been in an inpatient program for 6 weeks, made big public apology, public opinion about forgiving TW. A) he didn’t do anything to me, B) he makes some worthwhile points including that his real apology to his wife will not be proved by words but by his behavior over time.

• On a trip from England to America a traveler drank Governor Oglethorpe’s favorite wine, and the gov locked him up, livid, saying to his companion John Wesley “You know I never forgive” to which JW responded “In that case, sir, I hope you never sin.”

• Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."
For whom does Jesus ask forgiveness?
- the soldiers crucifying him, inflicting suffering, insults, gambling over possessions.
- the leaders who conspired out of self-righteousness and fear to have Jesus crucified
- Pontius Pilate, who delivered an innocent man to death for fear of the mob, and Herod, who treated Jesus as a performer and then sent him away
- Judas, for betraying
- the mob
- the disciples, for denying and deserting
- everyone... all have sinned, all must honestly declare “I am a sinner and in need of forgiveness.”

• Why might Jesus ask forgiveness for these people and circumstances?
Perhaps in intercession, to hold back the wrath of God upon those who were unjustly crucifying an innocent...
Perhaps that those who had sinned against Jesus might be granted opportunity to repent and experience forgiveness...
To experience forgiveness is to experience restored relationship – that what Tiger Woods hopes to experience with his wife & with the public.
To offer forgiveness is to say I do not wish for this sin to be a wall between us.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 : ...God our Savior... desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all... That’s why he came!

• A famous story of forgiveness Jesus tells is commonly known as the Prodigal Son... the father eagerly awaits the return (the repentance) of the son, with only desire to restore relationship.

To be forgiven is to enjoy the love of the Father’s heart and home... to enjoy the experience of restored relationship.

• Though not a condition for giving forgiveness, repentance is necessary for receiving forgiveness... Tiger Woods cannot receive forgiveness from his wife or public unless he asks for it, humbles himself and repents... the prodigal son could not receive forgiveness without humbling and repenting...

• Also part & parcel of receiving forgiveness is having faith, recognizing the possibility and clinging to the hope that reconciliation is possible, to the promise that God is about reconciliation, that that is why Jesus came, to forgive & bring us into right relationship & teach us to do likewise.

• We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the bets of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

As an act of right relationship with God and with those whom God loves and came to save, it is our duty & hopefully is our hope to be about the business of forgiveness, as we have been forgiven.

Your Lenten challenge: to forgive someone... to say those words out loud to someone: I forgive you. And similarly to seek forgiveness.

• Hymn 390 Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 59 in worship.


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