I Have A Part
The full sermon is recorded above. Here are the highlights -
What is more challenging than Jesus' instructions to Love our enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you? These instructions are an invitation - for those who choose to listen, for those who want to walk in the way of love, for those who want to see with the eyes of their heart enlightened.
"We are always at our best when compassion enables us to recognize the unique pressures and singular stories of the people on the other side of our conflicts. This is true for any conflict, from a personal spat to an international dispute." - The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, p. 151
Joseph, in this morning's Old Testament reading, embodies Jesus' instruction to choose a compassionate stance to bring about reconciliation. Joseph throughout all the challenges he endures, from his brothers' betrayal, cruelty and abandonment to the highs and lows of life circumstances in Egypt, Joseph consistently looks inward to decide what part he is to play that partners with God in bringing about God's purposes for himself and for others. Joseph models the freedom that comes from understanding who you are and whose you are (i.e. a beloved child of God!)
Joseph has the courage to dig deeper than recriminations and revenge. Joseph shows his brothers the pain their betrayal caused. Forgiveness comes about because Joseph isn't afraid to weep. He doesn't waste time with the anger - he gets to the root of the wound. This is what makes forgiveness possible.
That's our part in forgiveness too - that's the gift within the challenge. Finding our compassionate stance and decluttering our hearts of the anger, resentments, disappointments, dashed expectations, criticisms, etc. and getting to the sadness, grief, hurt underneath. If we want what we prayed for in our opening collect - For God to pour the greatest gift - love - into our hearts, then we have to do the work of making room in our hearts for that gift. Amen.