September 17, 2017
Pentecost 15A
Matthew 18:21-35

 

 

Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

 

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”   It seems to me that the theological concepts of “grace and forgiveness” are too often relegated only to our relationship with God. And relegated to only that relationship, it’s easy for them to remain “nice” and “safe” concepts. Yet in today’s gospel it is made clear to us by Jesus that grace and forgiveness are designed to be behaviors that begin in our relationship with God and then carry over into our more challenging everyday relationships with our friends and neighbors, and yes, even strangers and enemies.

 

So it is that God call us to forgive from the heart, to forgive from a deeper place, a complete place, to forgive in the same way that God has forgiven us. And yes, it seems like an impossible task.

 

      1. Touched By Love

 

 

Touched by love
I’ve been drenched in the waters that flow from above
Now I’m living wet, reaching out to the little ones
Touched by love

 

I see your face
In the least of these my brothers and sisters
I have found grace
Reaching out to find the kingdom

 

Touched by love
I’ve been drenched in the waters that flow from above
Now I’m living wet, reaching out to the little ones
Touched by love

 

I am alive
The waters of love are filled to overflowing
I am surprised
To find my life in simple giving

 

Touched by love
I’ve been drenched in the waters that flow from above
Now I’m living wet, reaching out to the little ones
Touched by love

 

Love one another
Watch the rain fall down from heaven
When we love one another
Fear lets go, it has no power

 

Touched by love
I’ve been drenched in the waters that flow from above
Now I’m living wet, reaching out to the little ones
Touched by love

 

 

 

Yet in love all things are possible.

 

Whenever I hit up against a brick wall, when I come across a theological mandate I can’t begin to grasp, whenever fear overwhelms the challenge of faith, I stop and remember my baptism. I remember that in those waters I was touched by love, by the love of God that makes all things possible, by a forgiving grace filled love without conditions, by a love that is stronger than fear, by a love that ultimately defines me and the way I understand the world.

 

And “touched by love” I begin to see Christ in others, in neighbor, in stranger, and even in enemy. “Touched by love” I begin to let go of the pain and hatred that keep me from forgiving others. “Touched by love” fear begins to slowly let go, the heavy burdens of life lighten, and faith begins to happen. Because when you know that you are loved, all things are possible, even the practice of grace and forgiveness.

 

It’s ironic that the greatest gift in forgiving is given not to the one forgiven but to the one who forgives. I look forward to that day when I can truly and fully practice forgiveness, let go of the grudges that have become the heavy burdens I carry. I look forward to the day when the world might begin to practice forgiveness, that day when we might let go of the practice of vengeful war, and instead seek out a restorative justice that will lead to true and lasting peace. I look forward to that day when all will have been “touched by love,” that day when all will have been set free, that day of “Amazing Grace.”

 

May you be “touched by love” today! Amen.

 

 

If you like this devotion please share it with others via the Facebook button at the bottom of this page! This week’s song, albums, and other songs by Greg, are available on Bandcamp! Get the music free! Greg’s music is listed for “name your own price.” Just choose $0, and download the song or album.

https://gregronning.bandcamp.com/album/sweet-holy-love

 

 

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