September 6, 2011
That's it. If you are preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary on track 2, then forgiveness is the theme of the lessons for Sunday. Joseph's brother's conniving attempt to receive his forgiveness. The Psalmists understanding of the way in which God blots out our offenses. Paul's call to cease judgment. Peter's hope that there is some end to the river of forgiveness. That's what you have, dear friends, forgiveness. Normally, this would be easy enough to preach. Even those of us who desire platitudes rather than sermons could find something to say this Sunday. "I remember the time my brother stole the last slice of key lime pie..." 7, 77, 490 - forgive. But this Sunday isn't just another Sunday. This Sunday is already headline news, already the stuff of the History Channel, already inundated with PBS specials for this Sunday, in case you haven't heard (or looked at a calendar) is the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01. This Sunday has weight that many (nee most) other Sundays do not. If you live in the greater New York and Washington DC metropolitan areas, the weight might be too much to bear. If you live on the Eastern Seaboard, it'll be tough. If you live on or near a military base, it'll be a different kind of heavy. And in some locals, it won't feel too bad at all, but watch, every person who walks through your doors will be carrying a little extra baggage. What then, does forgiveness look like on the 10th anniversary of 9/11? How does the releasing of the other's yoke lessen the burden of our own? How do we extend the question of Peter about a member of the Church (literally "a brother") to this pluralistic world? How can I, like Peter, limit the bounds of forgiveness? How does God, in Jesus, call me to the carpet for doing that? It is a tough Sunday on a short week. Forgive me, I've got a lot to do.