Friday, March 20, 2009

Sermon - "How Can Even I Be Forgiven?”, by Pastor Ruth L. Foss, March 23, 2009, Boston Univerity School of Theology, Introduction to Preaching class

Intro to Preaching
Sermon #1
Luke 23:26-46
“The Message Bible”

"How Can Even I Be Forgiven?"

Have you noticed how hard it is to forgive at times? I mean there are things that happen in our lives and we just can’t let them go. You may feel as if people out to “get you” in so many ways. How are we expected to forgive someone who has wronged us? Imagine with me for a moment, you are a mother of a child who has been shot in a drive by shooting. Your child had been just playing in the yard, minding their own business, when someone drives by shooting up the neighborhood. Your child was an unexpected recipient of a stray bullet. You are now sitting in a courtroom where the person who shot your child is on trial. From the witness stand, you hear the words from this shooter asking for your forgiveness. They didn’t mean to do it. They were just trying to scare a rival gang. You hear, “Please forgive me. If I had known your child was there I never would have shot the gun off.” Please forgive me…what do you do?

This thought process reminds me of my daughters. They need to hear that they are forgiven in order for their world s to be set right again. More times I have heard them apologize to each other and if the other doesn’t say “I forgive you”, their world comes crashing down around them. Let alone if they apologize to my husband and I and the y don’t hear that “immediate” I forgive you. I can remember one time our youngest, Shanequa, did something to her sister Shyanne. Now let me tell you, our daughter Shyanne can harbor unforgiveness in her. Well, Shyanne decided that this was going to be one of those times when her sister was not going to receive her forgiveness. I can remember the look on poor Shanequa’s eyes, full of tears, as she exclaimed, “Mom…I told Shyanne that I am sorry and she won’t say ‘that’s OK, I forgive you’.” It was not until I talked to Shyanne about forgiveness and she said those immortal words to Shanequa, that Shanequa’s world was set right again and she could be “best buds” with Shyanne once more.

Forgiveness…why do our lives depend so much on this feel, this release of guilt, in our lives? I think that sometimes it is hardest to forgive ourselves. We think that what we said or have done is something that we can’t forgive ourselves for. Never mind someone else forgiving us for something we had done to them. We also have times in our lives that we feel that we are so unredeemable that even God can’t forgive us. God could never forgive all that we have done in our life. Oh sure, God can give this person or that person but I have done much more than they have done. How even I be forgiven? There is no way on earth that God will ever think of forgiving me. Well, we have part of that statement correct. There is no way on “earth” that God can forgive us. The key words here are “on earth”, there is no way that God would forgive us by the world’s standards, the earthly regulations that tell us who are and who are not forgivable. But praise be to God that the God of all compassion doesn’t judge by the worlds standards but by the ones our Judge of all mankind sets. (AMEN)

In the Scripture passage from this afternoon, we see God made flesh beginning that forgiving, redemptive part of why Jesus came to earth. Here we have two criminals and Jesus, the Word made Flesh, hanging on the cross. There are people around, jeering and laughing at Jesus. They are telling Him to save Himself if He is the Son of the Most High. Even one of the men on a cross with Him starts making fun of Him, telling Him to not only save Himself but him and the other guy there. But something strange happened while they were hanging there on their crosses, the man to His right told the other to shut-up, he doesn’t know what he was talking about, what he was playing with or whom he is speaking too. This man on Jesus’ right understood, he looked at Jesus not with the eyes of man but with the eyes of faith and hope. Through these eyes He saw who Jesus really was and with a repentive heart he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His Kingdom. Jesus forgive me for what I have done and remember me, the one who sees who you really are, when you come into your kingdom. I want to be where you are from this day forward.

The next part of the story is what gives this piece of Luke’s Gospel hope for me. Jesus says to the man “Don’t worry, I’ll remember you. Today you join me in paradise.” Don’t worry, I forgive you. There is nothing too large or too small that I won’t forgive. All you have to do is ask. You can and will be with me from this day forward, no matter what. The beginning of that forgiving, redemptive power of our God and King…is here…at the cross. I like the way that John ends the Crucifixion story. In the Message Bible it ends with Jesus saying “It is done…Completed.” The beginning of that redemptive power is past…it’s just forward from here. Jesus completed that action needed to begin the healing process. The curtain has been torn, the gap has been bridge by the forgiving blood of the Lamb slain, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ (hallelujah…AMEN!) We shall be with Him in paradise.

How can even I be forgiven? Before this miraculous event took place there was another event just as miraculous as this one. As the “fans” were jeering and laughing at Jesus, He did something that I count as nothing short of a miracle in itself. As they tortured and jeered, Jesus looked up in heaven and said “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. Now I don’t know about you but if that was me I would be up there like “OK dad…smite them all! I am done with trying to teach these people the right way to live. I did nothing to deserve this so I need you to come to my rescue, I’ll come back home and we’ll talk about it over a cup of cappuccino and all will be good.” Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. They knew exactly what they were doing in my book, they were killing an innocent man is what they were doing, all because He went against the status quo of the time. What can we do that is worse than that and still be forgiven by God?

Beloved, there is nothing that you or I can do that makes us unforgiveable, unredeemable, in God’s eyes. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome states “I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” You see, while we were sinners, Christ died for us so that we may be restored to a right relationship with the God of forgiveness and understanding.

But it doesn’t stop here. You see, we are forgiven so that we may also extend that forgiveness to one another. You know that question I asked about what you would do if being asked to forgive someone who had wronged you. I think the answer lies in this equation. I am not saying that it has to be an instantaneous thing and sometimes we have to “fake it till we make it” but it is something that has to happen to begin the healing process. This also applies when we are taking about ourselves. It may take time but it is a crucial part of our walk with God. If we can’t forgive ourselves as God has forgiven us, how can we forgive others as God has forgiven us?

Forgiveness, it is like a balm in Gilead that can heal deep wounds that we inflict on others as well as on ourselves. Let us model our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and put on His likeness as we say “forgive them (and ourselves), they didn’t (we didn’t) know what they (we) are doing.”


Thursday, March 19, 2009

God is Waiting

Like the father of the prodigal son
ever waiting for his return
so is God, waiting for us
for each one, in their own time
by their free will alone
waiting for us to turn to him
to give our hearts, our minds, our hands
to our father, to his son, to the spirit
living within us, from before time
the breath of life, the source of our strength
the giver, the creator, our savior
all, triune and immortal
waiting for us, frail, weak, human
to choose to turn from our ways
to repent and to believe

March 19, 2009
sign in front of Grace Capital Church,
Pembroke, NH
One side was Come Thirsty
the other side was Be Refreshed
and the sign in front of Hillside Baptist Church
on the other side of the street,
One side was Turn Right, God is Waiting,
the other side was Turn Left, God is Waiting

Come Thirsty

Oh, come thirsty, come into the sanctuary
into the presence of God, a special place
onto sacred ground
be filled, be refreshed
to find the face of Christ
in our neighbors, in the words of song,
in the message in the scripture
the telling of the good news

Oh, come thirsty, come to the well
to the living waters of salvation
to be made new, in his image
to drink your fill, to run this race
with renewed strength
with faith as if a mustard seed
but able to move a mountain
stepping out of the boat onto water

Oh, come thirsty, to the Lord’s house
feeling his grace, all around you
entering into to worship, real worship
listening for that still small voice of God
his message, his call for your life
enter into his courts, fall at his altar
believe in his plan for you, from before your birth
plans to enrich you, and to bring your home

March 19, 2009
sign in front of Grace Capital Church,
Pembroke, NH
One side was Come Thirsty
the other side was Be Refreshed

All of my poems are copyrighted by Raymond A. Foss, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. All rights reserved. Contact me at Ray Foss for usage. See all 30,820+ of my poems at Poetry Where You Live.

Be Refreshed

Be refreshed in the living word of God
center yourself, quiet your spirit,
still your mind and open your heart
for he is calling you, even now
waiting for your journey
to lead you to his open arms
His grace sufficient
his sacrifice enough
come into his presence
abide in his love, in the father’s sheepfold
walk with our savior, yoked to him
enter in, and be refreshed
all who are thirsty; drink

March 19, 2009
sign in front of Grace Capital Church,
Pembroke, NH
One side was Come Thirsty
the other side was Be Refreshed
and the sign in front of Hillside Baptist Church
on the other side of the street,
One side was Turn Right, God is Waiting,
the other side was Turn Left, God is Waiting

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Grace abounding

Grace abounding, surrounding
Amazing grace,
So the song goes.
Reaching us, finding us, if we but pause
and look for the grace that is there.
Amazing grace, what power there is
that reaches an eager heart,
Grace that find us where we are,
clearing the mist, the cares, the fog,
that which keeps us from You
For it is grace which will bring me
bring all of us, home
into the presence of our Lord

March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Really Listening

Hanging on every word
no cares, no worries
present fully in the moment
every word, every thought
peals, jewels, treasures beyond measure

Patient, not rushing, stilling ourselves
Waiting, trusting, letting go
Relying on God to speak
to each of us, by his plan
in his time, as he wills it

Listening, as if hearing for the first time
Taking our time, the message as it comes
that still small voice, the whisper of God
calling across time, in the wilderness
Mindful, purposeful, listening.

Lord. Speak to your servants
Listening for your word.

March 17, 2009
Psalm 84
Luke 10:38-42 and
Sermon, “Christian Spiritual Disciplines: Listening”,
by Reverend Huntley Halvorson,
March 1, 2009
Suncook United Methodist Church,
Suncook, NH


Living, walking, before God
in his presence, ever
praising God, in word, in deed,
in truth; in the sanctuary,
in our work, in our service
New eyes to see God
devotion, love eternal
out of our heart’s desire
in all we say, all we do
Worshipping our creator,
our sustainer, our savior
All the days of our lives

March 17, 2009
Revelations 4:1-11
Psalm 95:1-3, 6-7a
Daniel 3:28-29
John 4:20-24 and sermon,
“Church… Isn’t Just for Sunday Anymore”,
by Pastor Ruth L. Foss,
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
March 8, 2009

Emptied Himself

He emptied himself,
his Godliness, making himself human
humble, a servant, a slave to the master
even to death
But his skin, was love,
his healing touch, his life in the world
a balm to all,
to being us back to God

March 10, 2009 and March 17, 2009
Philippians 2:7
Philippians 2:5-11
& book, Walking with Christ Everyday:
365 daily devotions for men, Day 67
“Infinite Love” and
quote attributed to Corrie ten Bloom,
“I have a glove here in my hand. The glove cannot
do anything by itself, but when my hand is in it, it
can do many things. True, it is not the glove, but my
hand in the glove that acts. We are gloves. It is the
Holy Spirit in us who is the hand, who does the job.
We have to make room for the hand so that
every finger is filled.”

In Weakness

In weakness grace,
in humility power,
in relying on God

March 10, 2009 and March 17, 2009
2 Corinthians 12:9
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Simple Signs

The cross, the symbol, the sign
not lofty law, proofs, signs
not the wisdom of the book
The cross alone, humiliation
pain, suffering, transformed
hope in that one offering
that act of sacrifice
the grace of God made flesh
not to be studied, but to believe

March 10, 2009 and March 17, 2009
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Upper Room Disciplines 2009, March 9, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Like Glass Jars

Our lives, like glass jars
filled by the stones,
by sand, by water
Be purposeful in filling
the days of your life;
beginning with the stones
so that there is room for
the important things of life
For, if we are not mindful
merely sand, merely water
filling our days,
unfocused and busy
without focus or purpose.

March 15, 2009
Matthew 11:28-30
Romans 12:3-13
Matthew 23:1-12
and sermon, “’Tis a Gift to Be Simple, ‘Tis a Gift to Be Free”
by Reverend Huntley Halvorson
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
March 15, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The word, simple, in some circles a put down
someone simple is a negative thing
simple, slow, uneducated, not with it
Simple, in the greater sense, a holy simpleness
focused on only that which matters, shedding the burdens
the shackles of the rat race, the cultural demands
the loads we all accept, all too willingly
gathered up, hefted onto our shoulders
a great weight, hanging heavy
Simple, in seeing the beauty of the moment
the wonder of creation
the creator’s hands working in the world
in the way of things, purposeful
Simple, slowing down, even if a bit
to linger with the word, to spend time with family
to relax in the luxury of grace
Taking time for God and the simple,
important things of life

March 15, 2009
Matthew 11:28-30
Romans 12:3-13
Matthew 23:1-12
and sermon, “’Tis a Gift to Be Simple, ‘Tis a Gift to Be Free”
by Reverend Huntley Halvorson
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
March 15, 2009

Rest Under His Yoke

Rest from the burdens, the heavy loads
of life, of our day to day, our lives cluttered
filled by the urgent, not the important

Rest from the struggles, in the grace of simplicity
the discipline of letting go, of setting down
the unnecessary load, of picking up the yoke of Christ

Rest under his yoke, sharing the journey with our savior
walking in his presence, in his light, transformed
released of the loads, the burdens we have carried

Rest for the journey, focused, our eyes on him,
our heart, our faces, set for Jerusalem, to his destiny
understanding more fully, perhaps, the words of the master

Rest for today, for tomorrow, lives ordered by the rocks,
by the important things of our walk, our days
Rest in our Lord, under his yoke, together

March 15, 2009
Matthew 11:28-30
Romans 12:3-13
Matthew 23:1-12
and sermon, “’Tis a Gift to Be Simple, ‘Tis a Gift to Be Free”
by Reverend Huntley Halvorson
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
March 15, 2009

Return to the Cross

To understand, the real weight
the gravity of his act, we must return
As we return to Bethlehem,
as we kneel at the manger bed.

We travel, we journey,
our face, with his, set on Jerusalem,
We return to the cross
to his suffering, to his sacrifice

Each Lenten season a pilgrimage
from our comfort, our day to day
Walking beside our savior,
journeying with him, as they did

The first disciples, not fully comprehending
needing too this reminder
these days of reflection
preparing us, our lives to him
as we return to the cross.

March 15, 2009
on posting the poem, “Return to Bethlehem”,
to today
Return to Bethlehem

We must return, to Nazareth, to Bethlehem
to the river, the Jordan
to the time of the Christ, with us
before his birth, hopeful, waiting
wondering when the Messiah will come
when the prophecy of old will be fulfilled

Each year, Adventide
journeying with Mary, with Joseph
following His star, traveling far
leaving our fields, listening to the angels

Returning to Bethlehem
to fall to our knees
at his manger bed

December 12 and 13, 2008

The Rocks

His sermon, on the rocks
the important things in our lives,
not the sand, the water, the little things
the distractions that fill our days
remembering to start with the rocks
those things, the people, our faith,
of lasting worth, of value
Starting there, the rest falling into place
carrying only the yoke of Christ,
not the unnecessary burdens, the law,
our culture’s demands
simplicity in our walk
focus, rest from our burdens
caring about the rocks alone
the rest to follow in its time

March 15, 2009
Matthew 11:28-30
Romans 12:3-13
Matthew 23:1-12
and sermon, “’Tis a Gift to Be Simple, ‘Tis a Gift to Be Free”
by Reverend Huntley Halvorson
Suncook United Methodist Church
Suncook, NH
March 15, 2009