Pentecost – 11 (c)
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:
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.
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
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.
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.”
Joshua W. Magyar,
Pella Lutheran Church
418 W. Main Street
Sidney, MT 59270