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October 22, 2018, 8:52 AM

The God of Second, Third and Twelfth chances


Grace and peace to you from God, our creator, our redeemer and our sustainer. May the words on my lips and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

I have the easiest of lessons today and the hardest of lessons today to share with you. God loves us. God forgives us. God really hopes we won't do it again. God will use us in the building up of the kingdom, either way. This means that God loves me. God forgives me. God really hopes I won't do it again. God will use me in the building up of the kingdom, either way. Therefore, God loves you. God forgives you. God really hopes you won't do it again. God will use you in the building up of the kingdom, either way.

But let us look at the lessons and see what they have to say about all of this. We often look at this Gospel lesson from the perspective of the tenant who is doing wrong by the landowner and that is not entirely wrong. The earth was made by God and then we are the stewards or those left in charge to care for the earth. There is a long history of prophets sent to tells us that we need to return to God, what is rightfully God's and the time is now. We can also look at the lesson that stewardship of the earth may well be given to another if we do not do it well. And while all of these are valid lessons there is another possibility.

What if the prophets of old are those servants sent before us, whom the tenants killed and beaten. Certainly even Jesus acknowledges that they have killed all the prophets who came before and why should we expect any less. We know that we are the adopted children of God. We are warned that we may be required to testify to our faith even under penalty of death. So, what if we are the child sent in the last to reclaim for God, God's rightful portion. Then the message is consistent with what we have read elsewhere that we are filling the shoes in some ways of those who have gone before us as the prophets. If this is true, then all of the things that we are doing to announce the king and for which we are getting beaten and abused and potentially killed, for all those things we need to give thanks that we were worthy to suffer as the prophets did before us. Now that is not exactly what we want to hear, but if you are suffering for your work to spread the good news it may well be comforting.

What if in the doing of God's work as God's servant we get it wrong and do that which we are not supposed to do. What if even after we know that we are God's servant, we go and do something absolutely horrible. What if we managed to both Commit murder and commit adultery in the same situation. What if we, in the process, used deceit to try and redeem the situation. Surely, we must be done for, in God's eyes. We have violated at least three of the commandments in the process. However, if you figure it out and repent you will still be OK. I say this because the promise to David was not removed.

Let us look at the story for a moment. A beautiful woman is on the roof taking the ritual cleansing bath and King David spots her and wants her to be his wife. OK, actually he was just lusting after her. So, he calls her over, and this is a classic case of misuse of power because it is hardly like she had the option to say “No” to the King. King David calls her over to his house and sleeps with her, thereby committing adultery, because she is married. So, double whammy of adultery and misuse of power, although in fairness to the text it never mentions the misuse of power.

OK, So David has broken one of the commandments by committing adultery. I think we can all recognize that God would likely forgive this, so long as there was repentance and a commitment not to do it again. You see though the story of abuse of power continues because King David uses his position to order that her husband be sent to the front line, where it is almost certain that he will die. You see there is one more twist to this story, Bathsheba is now pregnant with a child from David. So, whether to save his own reputation, which would be the story often, or whether he had fallen madly in love with Bathsheba and now wanted to ensure that he would have his child with him all the time, David sends Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba to the front lines and as expected, he is killed. Now David has committed Adultery, Abuse of Power, Murder and Lied. The rap sheet is adding up pretty quickly, certainly he is done and will be stripped of his title and God has no more use for him.

Actually, and this is the good part for us. There is one more twist in the story and one that is reasonably common throughout scripture. The twist in the story is that David,  admittedly after being called to account by the prophet Nathan, but David, sees his sin, sees what he has done wrong, admits what he had done wrong and sincerely intends not to do it again. David repents for the sins he has committed. And this is classic with God, I come to admit and repent for the sins I have committed and God chooses to continue the relationship with me and to continue to use me directly as a servant of God.

There is a key here however that is important and that key is repentance. Repentance means not just seeing and acknowledging what we have done wrong but genuinely trying not to do it again. We all know the alcoholic or addict who says never again to get back in our good graces, but knowing the whole time that they fully intend to drink or use again. That is not repentance. We all know the politician who makes a public apology, which is meant to smooth things over, but fully intends to commit the same action again. That is not repentance. Repentance is more like the alcoholic or addict who is now sober and comes to make amends. They are truly sorry and genuinely intend never to do it again but need to acknowledge that truth as part of the process. So, it is with David, and with us when dealing with God. Once we come to see the sin we have committed, we need to acknowledge that we have done it and if possible seek to make it right, while making an honest effort not to do it again.

Now we are the prophets, the ones sent into the world with the gospel lesson to collect for God but we are also the ones who are being called to send in God's portion of the harvest and as the ones sent in to return to God what is rightly God's, though we will kill the first messenger and maim the second, more opportunities will be presented. God is a God of second (and third and fourth and twelfth) chances. Your opportunity to repent is here now today and then you can remember your baptism, which reconciled you to God. And then you can come to the table and receive the bread and cup of life, which bear the forgiveness of God for you this day.

So come to the font and come to the table, all of you and receive what God has promised, the forgiveness of all that separates you from God, even if you are the lying, adulterous, murderer but have genuinely repented of those things. Because, God loves us. God forgives us. God really hopes we won't do it again. God will use us in the building up of the kingdom, either way. This means that God loves me. God forgives me. God really hopes I won't do it again. God will use me in the building up of the kingdom, either way. Therefore, God loves you. God forgives you. God really hopes you won't do it again. God will use you in the building up of the kingdom, either way.


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