Sermon for February 16, 2020: “The Sorry Gospel”
Reading: Matthew 5:21-26
A few weeks ago my son, Paul, taught me a lesson.
I took Paul and Maddie to McDonald’s to get their dinner.
While in the drive-thru line, Paul changed his mind on what he wanted about …13 times.
So while I was trying to order, he was yelling at what he wanted.
So as we were driving to pay, I looked back at him and in a very loud voice yelled, “Enough!”
Paul looked stunned.
He said, “what the heck?”
Things calmed down after that, but I felt bad for raising my voice to him.
So when we got home and after they ate,
I told Paul, “Buddy, I am sorry I raised my voice at you. Can you forgive me?”
He said, “Of course, I forgive you, Daddy. I’ll always forgive you.”
I gave him a big hug after that.
“I’ll always forgive you.”
If only I could believe he will keep that same attitude as he gets older.
But the reality is that as human beings we have a hard time at doing two things:
Saying “I’m sorry”
And saying, “That’s ok.”
Why is it so hard to apologize?
We don’t like to admit we are wrong.
We see it as a weakness
And that is not a 21st century problem.
It’s a problem that one can argue has its origins back in the third chapter of Genesis.
Adam and Eve eat the apple.
God comes calling.
When they are caught, do Adam and Eve say they’re sorry?
Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent.
So not admitting our mistakes is a problem as old as time itself.
But then another problem we have is we don’t do “That’s ok” very well either.
When someone has hurt us,
Instead of “that’s ok”
We say, “That’s… it?
THAT’S the best apology you can do?!”
I saw that reaction this week in all places the world of baseball,
Where the Houston Astros were caught stealing signs back when the won the 2017 world series,
And on Thursday players and the owner came out and gave a “Mistakes were made” conference,
And the baseball world said, “That’s the best you can do?!”
When we have been wronged,
We want more,
We want more pain from the other person
We want more honesty
We want more remorse
But sometimes that leads to where someone’s apology is never going to be enough.
And we can do more harm than good.
Every church I have been a member and a pastor at, I have known at least one person who keeps a journal of every wrong done to them by another church member or pastor.
But guess what they don’t keep.
You guessed it.
A journal of all their sins and wrongdoings.
Instead of a journal it’s one page with “Mistakes were made.”
When one couple shared with me their notepad of issues with people,
I asked what would happen if you wrote on that pad “Forgiven”
And then threw it away?
They couldn’t answer me.
Because they could not picture what saying “That’s ok” looked like.
Until it happened to them.
The wife of that couple, Carol, had shouted at me one time after church over something I didn’t have anything to do with, but she…needed to shout at someone.
So a few days later she came in and asked if we could start over.
Which was AS CLOSE as I was ever going to get to a “I’m sorry” out of her.
And I told her, “Carol, I forgave you as soon as you said it.”
She was stunned.
She didn’t know what to say.
She had not been “That’s OK”ed before.
But I can tell you it made her feel real good.
And it actually strengthened our relationship.
That’s a key word.
Because that is what Jesus wants us to focus on.
Our relationship with one another.
To make that bond, that connection as strong as it can be.
And to do that means we have to be ready to say “I’m sorry” and “That’s ok” a lot.
And sometimes, just saying those four words can change a life.
I have been thinking a lot this week about Kairos.
You heard Happy talk about it earlier.
It’s one thing to give forgiveness it’s another to show it.
Please remember that some of the residents have never been to a church.
Some have never read the Bible.
Some have never heard the Gospel.
Most of them feel
But then they hear the Gospel
They hear and read and experience the love of Christ with one another and with the Kairos ministers who visit them.
It was Ron Jamieson who shared with me in an email:
“KAIROS reminds them that no matter what is in their past, they can do nothing to make God love them less, or
love them more. We constantly remind them the GOD LOVES THEM – and so do we.”
We all need to be told that.
We all need to be told that God loves us no matter what.
God shows us this love
In the waters of baptism by welcoming us to His family and making a promise to be with us always
In the bread and wine where God offers us the Grace, the second chance, the “That’s Ok” that we can take with us.
All these things point us to how when we are at our lowest,
Just saying, “I’m sorry, God”
That we hear and receive God’s answer: “It’s ok, my child. I forgive you. I will always forgive you.”