Pentecost 15 A: Forgiveness & Possibility

Matthew 18:21-35 Dear Partner in Preaching, I have come to love this passage. The operative words, however, are “have come,” because I didn’t always. And I the reasons I didn’t always love this passage, but now do, are intimately tied together. My difficulty with the passage has quite simply been that forgiveness can be so exceptionally difficult, and never more so than when it commanded. I don’t mean the occasional moment of warm-hearted forgiveness, overlooking someone’s minor slight when you feel magnanimous; nor do I mean the spontaneous forgiveness you feel when someone is genuinely contrite over some accidental – and...

Pentecost 14 A – Christian Community

Matthew 18:15-20 Dear Partner in Preaching, So what do you think? Rules or relationships? I think this may be the central question to answer in our reading and preaching of this particular passage in Matthew. Is he giving us rules to live by or privileging relationships over, well, just about everything else in our life as Christians. If the former, then you have a rather neat little formula for maintaining a semblance of order in the Christian community. Someone offends you, confront them. If that doesn’t work, try an intervention. If that fails, cut them off and kick them out. If nothing else, it’s at least straight forward, which is...

Pentecost 4 C: It’s All About Forgiveness

Dear Partner in Preaching, Take it from me, it’s all about forgiveness. Now, I don’t know if I’d start there, but it’s definitely where I want to end up. Where would I start? Probably with how much I don’t like Simon. Come on, be honest – don’t you agree? He’s kind of a punk. Arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous, he looks down on everyone else and is scornful of both this woman because of her reputation and Jesus for not treating her with the disdain Simon believes she deserves. And I wonder if that’s the point. Luke crafts this story with great care, even sharing Simon’s muttering thoughts to himself. And the punch line...

Matthew 18:23-35

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and...

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” If I wasn’t sure whether or not Matthew had consciously...