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...

Pentecost 14 A: Forgiveness and Freedom

Dear Partner in Preaching, This is one of the hardest parables we’ll ever preach on. Actually, that’s not quite true. The parable itself is actually pretty straightforward; it’s the reality the parable describes that’s hard. The parable itself, we should keep in mind, comes on the heels of Peter’s question to Jesus about how many times he should forgive. When Jesus stuns him by multiplying Peter’s generous suggestion of forgiving someone seven times to seventy-seven (or, probably a better translation, seventy times seven) times, Jesus then illustrates the importance of forgiveness by sharing this parable. While the overall...

Pentecost 13 A: The Essential Ingredient

Dear Partner in Preaching, I wish I had an easier way to say it, but here’s the straight-up truth: authentic community is incredibly hard to come by. In case you’re not sure, take another look at these verses from Matthew. Actually, don’t look at just these verses, or you’re likely to fall into reading the Bible as some kind of divine reference book instead of the living Word of God. Here’s what I mean. The heart of chapter eighteen is about forgiveness: about how important it is to God, about how important it is to us, and about how hard it can be to actually extend and receive it. And so in the verses just before those we read...