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Sermons.

Time after Pentecost – 11 (c)
Luke 7:36-8:3
June 17, 2007                    

I learned this week that three friends of mine: Brennon, Todd and Trent are coming to Susie and my wedding next month.  Wow.  I can’t get over it.  It is an amazing thing to me, that these three friends would come just to see me get married.  Me, the lousiest correspondent on the planet.  Me the one who dropped of the face of the earth over 10 years ago, to go to college in Oregon and then seminary school.   

You know, I considered not even sending these guys invitations…not because I wouldn’t want them to come or anything like that, no—but because I don’t think I deserve for them to come.  I mean, what kind of a friend have I been to them, and what kind of a costly trip this would be for them.  Goodness knows, Epping, ND is not the easiest or most inexpensive place to get to. 

Have you ever felt like this?  Undeserving of the friendships or companions God has put on this earth for you? 

This week I received some e-mails from my three long-lost friends:  I’m sharing them with you, not only because it’s my good news of the week, but because, as it turns out—it seems to fit well with the Gospel today—I find these short and simple letters filled with meaning and the grace of God. 

1) From Brennon:

“My tickets are booked!  I arrive in Williston at 11:59pm on 7/13 on Great Lakes Aviation.  Josh, I'm looking forward to meeting Susie and to celebrating with the two of you!” 

2) From Trent:

“I'm in too. Just got the days off and booked my tickets. Looking forward to meeting the misses Josh and seeing your hood!! Talk to you all soon.” 

3)  From Todd:

“Magyar, I'm in as well.  I will be driving however.  Can't wait to see you and the future wife.  See you soon.” 

4) My reply to all three:

“OK, well... it will be a little reunion then.  You, gentlemen, are amazing to me...  Not sure how much time I'll actually have while you're here, but I can't wait to see you.  Very excited. See you in a month.” 

5) From Todd again, and this is the best one…

“You won't see us at all.  That's how weddings work unfortunately.  But we'll be the ones in the back heckling...so you'll know we're there.  Looking forward to seeing both of you.”   

You won’t see us at all, but we’ll be in the back heckling—were looking forward to seeing you. 

 

Jesus shows us that there is some sort of relationship between forgiveness and love. There is something about being forgiven that enables love to grow and thrive. Think about it. How desperately do we long for/hope for those people in our lives willing to hang out with us, even after they realize what knuckleheads we are? How desperately I long for relationship with the one who is willing to accept me, even though I am a bad…dancer or letter writer or whatever else I am (I am tempted here, to go into a list of faults; a personal confession of sins past and present, but I don’t think this is the time). The point that I’m trying to make is this:  In order to experience love, we must experience/allow ourselves to admit our need for experience. 

The good news conveyed in the gospel is that God is that person. Revealed in Jesus Christ, the one who knows what our sins are…  He knows us and loves us and forgives us. What a relief…to be known and loved anyway…and forgiven.  This is who we are in the church.  “Simul justus et peccator.”  That is, simultaneously saints and sinners.  Although we have tasted redemption, having been claimed by God through Jesus Christ, we remain involved in a lifelong struggle with our inclination to sin and self-serving. 

There is a great commentary in this Gospel on what it means to be a sinner. This is a given. The woman was a sinner. This is where Martin Luther helps us out immensely. I think as a result of our Lutheran heritage, the story becomes easily accessible to us. It’s about a sinner. Oh, that means it is for and about you and me also.  We are saints, but we are indeed sinners. 

Simon the Pharisee and his guests, however, don't get it. They are not grateful and they have no love for Christ or for God, because they can not understand the grace of God. Neither do they know themselves as sinners.  

Knowing this crucial piece about who we are opens for us a world of grace in which to live.  We are sinners.  We are forgiven to go forth once again, in the name of Christ, to love God and to love on our neighbors.

The real question becomes: What does our sin—our propensity to let each other and God down—cause us to do? Dare we approach, or do we run away. Dare we reach out to God and to one another, in spite of our guilt?  I can’t get over what it must have taken for this poor woman to own her shame and come, uninvited into the house of a Pharisee. It seems to me that she takes a total risk as she approaches Jesus, for how certain are we that the one we hope on will actually forgive us?  

Asking forgiveness is not easy. How many times have we all retreated from opportunities to repent?  How many times have we given up on relationships because “we aren’t worthy?” 

Well, apparently, it’s not about worthiness.  It’s not about worth at all.  It’s about love.  And this is the point.  What Christ offers us is love—but in order to experience that love, we must first let ourselves be known. Dare to send out the invitation. 

And so, perhaps Todd’s little comeback is as good as any for understanding God… 

“You won’t see me at all.  That’s how life works unfortunately.  But I’ll be the one in the background watching over you and forgiving you (even when you forget about me). And yes, sometimes even playfully heckling you, so you’ll know I’m there.”

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Joshua W. Magyar,

Pella Lutheran Church

418 W. Main Street

Sidney, MT 59270

jmagyar@pellachurch.net