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, April 10, 2011

The Circle of Lent 5/5: Absolution and Reconciliation

April 10, 2011
Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Circle of Lent: Absolution and Reconciliation
#5 of 5

2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2 and John 17:1-5, 20-23

God… reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:18

My sermon outline:

• One time on a college choir trip, stayed at hotel, rooms with connecting doors. Cool! But each room had to open the door to have free access.

• We’ve been examining relationship, started with picture of unity, harmony, agreed-upon plan. Then deviation.

After sin we took a look at two different perspectives: the righteous one forgives (regardless of sinner’s actions) and, motivated by sorrow for sin, the sinner does a few things: stops & confesses, turns around (repents, aligns with Christ), and offers some kind of meaningful demonstration of sorrow (penance).

A Catholic prayer of confession and repentance:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

• So far the actions of the two parties are independent of the other…
Forgiveness offered freely without any strings attached (by power of HS), the forgiving party opens the door.
Sinner confesses and repents and offers fruit of repentance (by power of HS) without any expectation of forgiveness, opens door.

And now that both doors are open we can entertain absolution and reconciliation, which require the joint effort of both parties… there can be no absolution or reconciliation without forgiveness, and there can be no absolution or reconciliation without the sorrow of sin.

Where forgiveness says You don’t owe anything, and confession/repentance/penance say My sorrow over my sin wants to do something to cover my sin, Absolution is the joint effort that frees the sinner from guilt. It’s when the righteous says I accept your apology, I recognize your penance… don’t worry about it. I can see how your sorrow is motivating you to remain on our chosen path with me.

And once the relationship is freed from guilt and there is no barrier between the righteous and the sinner, those hotel doors are open and it’s party time! For real, think about the reconciliation party at the return of the Prodigal! Renewed relationship should be celebrated! Harmony and unity can flower again

• Two things to point out, that it is by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can truly forgive one another, and it is by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can confess and repent and offer penance and be reconciled, that’s the first thing to point out. The HS is the door opening to reconciliation.

Second thing to point out is that the relationship after the reconciliation may be stronger than it was before the sin! When you break a bone and it heals it’s actually stronger than before because of the scar tissue. Not like a broken plate glued back together but new bone forms around the fragments like cement and concrete.
With people, relationships that have gone through difficulties are stronger than relationships that have not.

Thanks be to Jesus, whose prayer is that we would be one just as he and the Father are one, thanks be to Jesus that we can be reconciled to God who does not count our sins against us.

• There’s a door in front of you. Open it!

• Hymn 562 Jesus Lord We Look To Thee

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 65 in worship.
Appointment Announcement: It was announced today that Bishop Peggy Johnson has appointed Pastor Dennis Keen to pastor the Spring City United Methodist Church, beginning July 1, 2011.


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