A Sermon for 22nd Sunday after Trinity at the Danish Lutheran Church of Vancouver, B.C.

Ge 50:15–21
Php 1:6–11
Mt 18:21–35

Good morning

Peace be with you

Today is all about forgiveness. So please rise, this holy gospel is written by the evangelist Matt:

18,21Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, forgive seventy-seven times. 23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When the king began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

I am sure you all noticed that we celebrated Remembrance Day all over Canada this weekend.

Remembrance Day was inaugurated by King George V in 1919 after World War I

And this week one hundred years later the words “Lest we forget” has been everywhere to honor and remember those who died in the past serving their country.

So Remembrance Day is all about remembering.

Today the Lord asks us to forgive.

Somethings are not easy to forgive. And there are things in every life you would rather forget!

In forgiving other people, we are not asked to forget. On the contrary, it is important to remember so that bad things doesn’t happen again.

Forgiveness means taking things seriously and not minimizing it.

Today the words of the Lord tell us that if you do not forgive you will be thrown into prison and you will be tortured.

This is not a threat; this is something I am sure we all recognize from our own daily life.

When we hold a grudge or we become bitter, it feels like torture every day.

Or when something awful happens and you say to yourself in your heart I will never forgive myself; well, then it will seem like being in a prison. If you say: I will never forgive myself! It will be just like sitting in a dark room with all the curtains down. Outside the sun may be shining and there is a fresh breeze blowing – the only way to let the light come in is to open a window and draw the curtains apart.

It is the same thing with forgiveness, when you acknowledge and when you remember, you are letting the light and some fresh air of forgiveness enter into your life.

It is and has always been Gods intention that we should live in friendship and in harmony. That was the point of story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There was no bloodshed in the garden and the lion and the lamb sat together and they were all vegetarians and at peace. But nothing is like those days any more. Adam and Eve started blaming each other and the harmony they shared became a conflict and all about whose fault it was. Was it the woman’s fault or was it the snake who caused all of it? Or was it Adams own fault that he also took a bite of the apple?

It is crucial when a friendship has been damaged that someone is ready to say: I am sorry. It helps the process of forgiveness when you apologize.

But do we rush to apologize? What about when it actually is someone else’s fault?

Last week I watched a movie with the confirmand boys: The Revenant.

This is a movie about a man whose son was killed right in front of him. And he dedicates his life to chase the killer.

He thinks of nothing but revenge and this is his drive, his anger is his passion that keeps him going. In fact this man is not only mad with the killer, he is frustrated that he did not prevent this, he is thinking that he as a father should had done a better job.

And it is a long movie, almost three hours of this man stumbling around in the cold woods at wintertime.

Finally, when he catches up with his son’s murderer and they are struggling face to face, her realizes that revenge is only for God. Revenge will not set him free.

And finally, he is at peace.

No need to spend your whole life chasing revenge. No need to spend a lifetime in a bitter self-made prison without forgiveness.

However forgiving others can be very difficult, and what when it comes to forgiving ourselves?

There is no future without forgiveness.

A wise lady here in our church recently recommended me this book:

Desmond Tutu, No future without forgiveness

And I went straight to the library and I would like to share some thought from the book with you all today.

It is a little exercise we can practice at home.

One would think that holding a grudge and not being able to forgive is nothing really serious. Anger and bitterness is just thoughts in our heads, nothing that will actually wear us down.

However, bitter thoughts are a burden. They will hold you caught and imprisoned. Thoughts will keep you awake at night.

So let me introduce this exercise. Try holding something in your one hand. Take a stone and think: this is my grudge, this is my bitterness – this is something I cannot forgive.

Try holding the stone in your hand just for one day.

See how difficult it is to shower with when you have to hold on to something, see how difficult it is to get dressed and tying your shoe laces – if you try to drive your car whit this stone in your hand it will even become dangerous. And think about other people, they will look at you thinking why is this person trying to go shopping with a stone in one hand?

Try to open your purse or zip your coat – if you yourself saw a person trying to cope with daily life with a stone in one hand, wouldn’t you go up to that person saying: why not put the stone down. Let go..

You don’t have to throw the stone away and forget about it, but why carry it around all day long?

Maybe you can consider having the stone laying in your garden or somewhere outside your house.

Carrying a stone around with you all the time is too heavy a burden. Let it go.

There is no future without forgiveness.

To forgive is something we choose do. Forgiveness is for our own sake.

When we do forgive it is not like saying I am not angry or saying everything is ok.

We forgive to let go. So that we are not caught up in bitterness.

Bitterness is draining, holding a grudge sucks out all our energy.

An old Chinese saying goes like this: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

If you seek revenge you double your trouble..

Thinking about revenge can be very intriguing, but revenge do not restore.

We do not have to tolerate everything. We do not have forget.

However, we can choose to forgive and let go.

Forgiveness is a healing process. A way of being a whole person instead of torn apart.

Forgiving is not always easy, but God encourage us to do so today; and He has already forgiven us.

Jesus thinks we are to die for!

So onward then in the name of Jesus Amen