2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
So far in our Journey of to find the essential tools for deepening our faithfulness we have seen the role that trust plays as a fundamental starting point and foundation for Faith. Trust allows us to move forward with the very basic understanding that we are reliant on God and can trust that He will provide. This is also a call for us to trust each other, in that if God is working in them as God is working in us we must trust that they will do what is needed. This leads to acceptance; God constantly shows us acceptance, showing us through the actions of Christ that the most important thing of life is faithfulness. We then are called to accept others. By accepting others we can grow in our faith and understanding of God recognizing that God is working differently in all people.
When we trust and accept we also have to forgive. Forgiveness is essential within the church and a healthy community. As an expression of faithfulness, when we show forgiveness we extend to one another that beautiful gift of Grace, allowing our forgiveness to be a model for how God will show his grace towards us.
Grace and forgiveness are great topics to follow on a Sunday that we celebrate the Children’s Sabbath. As we know from studies and much research, the most successful children in adulthood are often not the ones who find school easy or have had the “perfect life;” rather, they are the adventurous ones who have made mistakes and have grown to learn from them. They are often in families that are often supportive, sometimes strict, but always forgiving.
When forgiveness is not part of the family or perfection is the only accepted state of being we find terrible problems. Now it is important to note that forgiveness is not accepting an “anything goes” life. Forgiveness requires us to admit to our faults and learn from them.
This is crucial within the Christian story because it is how we come to grow to understand God. As humans we are subject to making mistakes or even harming someone and finding ourselves in a position of needing someone to forgive us. This need for other’s forgiveness is a further reminder that we are all in this community together and our community can be strengthened by it. As a greater community, when we learn to forgive the faults and shortcomings of others, as well as ourselves, we begin to be able to live into a new reality.
The Sermon passage this week is from Jeremiah. It is one of the great passages that are associated with the Advent season. While we see it as a text foretelling the coming of Christ; it really is about the change that is coming to the society. The change is one that will move from the idea of the bondage of sin to a personal relationship with God. It also suggests, for one of the first times in the Bible, that through what Christ teaches to be God’s Grace, we can be forgiven our transgressions against God and be made whole, independent of our family history but reliant on our individual faith.
This forgiveness that we see within Christianity has everything to do with our faithfulness to God. When we are faithful and trying to grow in our relationship with God, God will give us grace to forgive our iniquity. When we trust in God and accept the faithful life, God grants us forgiveness. The ultimate question, though, is whether or not we can forgive others.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen