The Business of Forgiveness

Good morning. It is Saturday, November 22, 2014. Welcome to the “Weekend Edition.”

Did you know that eating sushi can relieve stress?

Today is Go For A Ride Day. That can be very enjoyable, under the right conditions. However, we are having thunderstorms all day today, so it wouldn’t be much fun, at least not for us. I understand some people really enjoy that. Tomorrow might be a different story. Perhaps we can put off our ride until tomorrow.

Yesterday was another pretty good day, at work. We got almost all of our work done before quitting time. I know that the cart that I work from was emptied, and the one that the Next Day freight goes on was mostly empty, as well. Whoever is working today, should not have a difficult day, at all, and that’s good. Of course, we are looking toward a short week, next week, as we have Thanksgiving on Thursday, and we get Friday off, as well. This means that we will have to stay on Wednesday until everything is received. That could make for a long day, unless the work load continues in the same way it did this week.

We had pizza for dinner last night, and watched this week’s episodes of The Voice, along with last week’s How To Get Away With Murder. We have one more episode of that show to watch, before it breaks for the winter. In the finale, we will find out who actually killed the lawyer/teacher’s no-good husband. We had an interesting experience with Pizza Hut. I placed our order online. When it arrived, one of the pizzas was wrong. It wasn’t just a little wrong, either. I had ordered one with sausage, mushroom, onion. What I got was pepperoni, bacon, and what appears to be either sausage or beef. I called them, and they got the correct order put in, but said it would be an hour before it was delivered. I took exception to that, explaining that I understood that they were busy, but I had a person here with no food, who had already waited 50 minutes for it. The girl seemed flustered, but went and talked to the manager, who told her he would move it ahead, but it would still be about 30 minutes, because, you know, it has to cook and stuff. That was totally reasonable, and I told her so. I asked about the pizza that was wrong, did they want it back? “No, you can keep it,” she said. Bonus!! Free pizza! So I’m having pizza for breakfast this morning! I really believe that the driver (or whoever packs up the pizzas for delivery) got our pizza and someone else’s mixed up. But who knows?

Today will, no doubt, be “business as usual” for a Saturday, except for the added Thanksgiving dinner after church tonight. Should be a good time, based on what some people are saying that they will be bringing to the dinner. We have prayer time at 4:45, and worship at 5:45. We are The Exchange Church. You are welcome tonight, if you are in the area. Please join us.

(Source: This Day In History and Christian History Institute)

It was, of course, this date in 1963 that will haunt the city of Dallas forever. John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade, passing in front of the Texas School Book Depository, in an open-top convertible. (Don’t watch the film if you’re squeamish.) The world will probably never know exactly what went down that day. I’ve even recently read theories that say Connally made the last shot over his right shoulder.

While the world was reeling over the Kennedy tragedy, Clive Staples Lewis quietly passed away from kidney failure, in his bedroom, minutes after 5:30 PM. It is my opinion that C.S. Lewis had, and continues to have, a much greater impact on the world than JFK. No disrespect intended, as I have nothing but respect for JFK’s memory.

Today’s birthdays include Scarlett Johansson (turning 30 today!), Mark Ruffalo, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rodney Dangerfield, Boris Becker, Billie Jean King, Robert Vaughn, Jonny Gomes, Mariel Hemingway, Charles de Gaulle, Hoagy Carmichael, Terry Gilliam, Joe Nathan, Karen O, Tarzan (according to Burroughs), Wiley Post, Benjamin Britten, Geraldine Page, Lew Burdette, and Floyd Sneed.

Floyd Sneed is a drummer, probably most famous for the years that he played with Three Dog Night. He turns either 71 or 72 today, depending on which web site you believe. Here is a live recording of one of my favorites, “One Man Band.”

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.
Agnus Dei
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Psalm 31:5
In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.

Psalm 71:1-9

Today’s Gospel Reading

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33

This seems to have occurred right after the miraculous feeding. Jesus sent the disciples ahead, while he spent some time alone, praying. After he is done, he goes to the disciples. The catch is, they are in the middle of the sea. So he walks on the water, out to meet them. At first, they think it is a ghost. This tells us that the concept of ghosts is, indeed, an ancient one, and even Jesus’s disciples believed that such things were possible. The word there is phantasma, which could mean “spectre” or “spirit.” Anyway, Peter, being his usual self, gets impulsive, and asks Jesus to command him to come out on the water to him. Jesus’s response is, simply, “Come.” What happens next is nothing short of amazing. “So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (v. 29). All it took was one simple word from Jesus, and Peter climbed out of the boat, with, apparently, no second thought. Until he took his eyes off of Jesus. Why do we doubt? Jesus tell us to “Come.” Why do we doubt? We say we believe. I’m right there, too. I claim to believe, yet I doubt. Lord, help my unbelief. Let me obey the words of Christ.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Acceptance of Sinners.”

“God does not condemn but forgives. The sinner is accepted even before he repents. Forgiveness is granted to him, he need only accept the gift. This is real amnesty–gratis.” This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the love story of God. The only condition to forgiveness is “trusting faith,” which is, in itself a gift from God. “Christianity happens when men and women experience the unwavering trust and reckless confidence that come from knowing the God of Jesus.” We have no reason whatsoever to be cautious or afraid. God has proven himself trustworthy. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. )1 John 4:18)

God accepts sinners, and that acceptance has been accomplished long before any repentance is displayed. How, then, shall we not accept sinners, as well? Or how shall we not display forgiveness because someone has not repented? Are we better than God? Are we higher than the Almighty? Do we know better than him? I dare say we do not. If we want to be more like Jesus, we’d best get on with the business of forgiveness and acceptance and stop pretending to be better than we are.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:45

Father, I my prayer this morning is that you help me be more accepting and forgiving. This is needed, both within and without the congregation of your Church. There are too many times when I struggle with this. Someone does something that annoys me, and I struggle with acceptance. Help me to act more like you, who has accepted me in the middle of my sinfulness, knowing the outcome of grace applied, when it reaches fruition. How dare I treat others with less grace than that with which you have treated me!!! I am shamed at my behavior. Help me to lay aside all annoyances and offenses, forgiving and accepting, just as you forgave and accepted me. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.

I pray for this day. May you extend grace and mercy to us as we do whatever needs to be done for this day. I pray for our evening prayer and worship time, and for the fellowship meal following. May we be thankful to you at all times, not just in November. Your grace is amazing! Let us live and act accordingly. May your name be lifted high tonight as we worship you.

May God give us the grace to be on with the business of forgiveness, as he has forgiven us greatly!

Grace and peace, friends.

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