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Fourth Sunday in Lent - Forgiveness

Lent 2022 - THE WORD  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Growing up, I remember the season leading up to Easter as a time of giving something up. A time to sacrifice something that was important to me. A time to somehow feel what it was like to do without. As a child I always gave up potato chips! My small sacrifice for the greater good!! In hindsight, it was quite petty of me. At the time, it was the one snack food I truly enjoyed and it seemed like the right thing to do. As I got older, the season of lent became a time of self-examination, rather than a time of giving up snack foods. I would spend time fasting, but I remember devoting time to exploring where I was, where I currently am, and where I was heading. It was, and is an opportunity to recall moments where perhaps I wasn’t as true to myself, my family, God. Times when I may may sinned. It remains a time set aside to seek forgiveness, to perhaps sacrifice something in an act of reconciliation.
These past few weeks we have been looking closer into scripture, what the Word tells us of important topics. Love. Comfort. Suffering. Today our focus shifts to forgiveness. Forgiveness involves looking closer at our own actions. Really doing a “deep-dive” into our own thoughts, words and actions. We need to invite ourselves into a period of self-examination, that will truly show us our own faults and shortcomings. We need to do this opening, and honestly.
This tradition of Lent we find ourselves in is rooted in those 40 days in which Jesus himself spent in the desert. Today’s readings remind us that this is a time of reflection, of admitting our faults. More importantly, it provides us the opportunity to seek forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Readings

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32

Are you the Prodigal

It is a wonderful think to live a God centered life. Just remember, that none of us a close to being perfect. That title is reserved for Jesus, and no-one else. As long as we are breathing, it is never too late. Perhaps during your time of self-reflection you have realized you are like the Prodigal son. Living for material things. Finding comfort in addictive behaviors. Suddenly realizing that sinful actions, words, thoughts have hurt yourself, your loved ones, God. Seek forgiveness. Pray with God. Be open and honest. Seek reconciliation with those whom you’ve hurt. A fresh start is available to all those who simply ask. Celebrate and be glad. Be alive again. Become found.
"His father saw him - there were eyes of mercy; he ran to meet him - there were legs of mercy; he put his arms round his neck - there were arms of mercy; he kissed him - there were kisses of mercy; he said to him - there were words of mercy; Bring here the best robe - there were deeds of mercy; Wonders of mercy - all mercy! Oh, what a God of mercy he is!" Matthew Henry

What the Word says about Forgiveness

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Psalm 32:1–2 NIV
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Matthew 18:21–22 NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Ephesians 4:32–5:2 NIV
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Acts 3:19 NIV
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Reconciliation

Paul reminds us that we need to seek forgiveness and be reconciled to God:
2 Corinthians 5:17–21 NIV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Conclusion

Forgiveness provides us with a clean state. When we confess our sins to God, we are made clean. Self-examination is important as it offers us the opportunity to look deeply into our owns thoughts, actions, and words. It provides us the opportunity to transform ourselves through forgiveness, sacrifice and repentance. Let us take these early spring days to look deeply at ourselves, and reconnect with ourselves, with our families, and with God.

Prayer

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalms 34:1-8
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