Rogation Sunday St. John xvi. 5
May 1, 2016 A.D.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer.
Forgiveness and More
Text: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone.” St John xvi. 23
A traveler in Scotland described two preachers he had heard during his travels. Of one, he said: 'He showed me the glory of God.' Of the other, he said: 'He showed me my whole heart.'
If you spend much time in church, you hear that we should seek to glorify God in all that we do. But, have you ever wondered what the glory of God really is? When we speak of God’s glory, what are we talking about? If someone were to ask you, “What is glory?” would you know how to answer?
Some will suggest that Ezekiel 10:4 helps us to see a glimpse of and understand God’s glory: “Then the LORD’s glory rose from above the winged creatures and moved toward the temple’s threshold. The temple was filled with the cloud, and the courtyard was filled with the brightness of the LORD’s glory.” I don't know about you but I have never seen winged creatures moving toward the Church, and the church filled with a cloud or the brightness of God's glory. How I can think of God’s glory is to think of the wonderful qualities of God such as might, beauty, goodness, justice, and honor. When it comes to these characteristics and so many others, God has them in superabundance.
Thus, when we think of God’s glory, we remember that God has all good things in greater quantity and quality than we can ever imagine. Notice, too, that God’s glory is solid and substantial. It isn’t mere reputation. It isn’t dependent on anyone or anything else. God’s glory reflects his essential nature.
Since God is the source of all good things. He actually shares his glory with us. When we receive his plentiful gifts with gratitude, when we use them to enhance his honor, when we acknowledge him as the source of all goodness, then we are glorifying him. When we read the Psalms during morning and evening prayer we say the prayer;
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
So if someone asks you, “What is glory?” an answer would be the characteristics of God such as might, beauty, goodness, justice, and honor which God has in greater quantity and quality than we can ever imagine. All the characteristics of God are the very nature of God.
When the Scotsman said the preacher showed him his whole heart he likely meant he was shown the physical, emotional, intellectual, and moral center of who he was as a person. Have you ever cared for person or an animal so much that it hurt to even think about losing them let alone actually losing them? That feeling is what it is to love God with your whole heart, a physical, emotional, intellectual, and moral feeling so strong that at the very thought of not being with God now and for eternity hurts.
Jesus told his disciples that, in spite of their belief, the hour was coming when they would desert him. Here is perhaps the most extraordinary thing about Jesus. He knew the weakness of his disciples; he knew their failure; he knew that they would let him down in the moment of his greatest need; and yet he still loved them; and what is more wonderful is that he still trusted them. Jesus teaches us how to forgive, and how to trust those whom we have forgiven and those guilty of failure.
The problem we have as imperfect humans is we struggle with forgiveness and rarely do we trust someone who has done wrong against us. There was a story in the Villages news this week about a couple who were arguing. When the woman tried to leave the man pushed and hit her. The man who yells at or even worse strikes his wife for something she has or has not done, is wrong. This pattern of behavior is all too common in cases where substance abuse is an issue. Yet the man expects the woman to forgive him and trust him not to hit her in the future. This is not what Jesus is teaching us. When physical harm is present God expects us to use our free will to decide what is best for our physical safety.
There are times in our life when a friend or family member says or does something that offends us or hurts our self esteem. They may say something about us which is untrue or accuse us of doing something that we did not do. Many times these actions are based on a false conclusion the person has made because they did not have all the facts. But the result is often the same, family and friends stop talking to each other.
Jesus knew human beings at their worst and still loved them and trusted them. It is possible to forgive someone and at the same time, to make it clear that we are never prepared to trust that person again. But Jesus said to the disciples: 'I know that in your weakness you will desert me; nevertheless I know that you will still be conquerors.' Never in the world were forgiveness and trust so combined. The lesson here is that Jesus teaches us how to forgive, and how to trust those who are guilty of failure. This may be one of the hardest lessons for us to learn and many may never try. But for those who seek to glorify God in all that they do this is but one of the many challenges. Remember that even in attempting and failing God still loves and trusts us.
Let us pray;
Give us grateful hearts, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others. For these, and all his other gifts, may God's holy name be praised and blessed, through Jesus Christ or Lord.
And now unto God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; be ascribed all might, majesty, power and domination as is most justly due this day both now and forever; world without end.