Sermon Series – ‘Forgiveness’

A 4-part Sermon Series preached around the Benefice in May and June 2024.

For the vast majority of us there is a realisation that our words and actions have caused distress to others and vice-versa. We don’t have to spend too long to remember relationships that have soured and where despite our best efforts things remain broken. At the heart of this we need to hold onto the fact that God (powerfully depicted in the father figure in the prodigal son), seeks us out and wishes to forgive and bring reconciliation.

The next four sermons may not be easy but we pray will be ultimately good for us all.

Part 1: Forgiveness 1 – Rev Simon

Bible Readings: Romans 5:1-11 and Luke 15:11-20

Part 2: Forgiving Others – Rev Louise

Bible Readings: Colossians 3:11-17 and Matthew 18:21-33

As we dive deeper into the theme of forgiveness it becomes ever more challenging, applying the principles of generous and sacrificial forgiveness to others sounds possible on paper and then reality kicks in. When we’ve been wounded by the actions and inactions of others there is a mark that stays with us. It’s hard to see the other person beyond the history that divide us and starting again let alone forgiving them, can seem a distant dream.

The parable that Jesus teaches in the Gospel reading (Matthew 18:21-33)  is hard hitting in many ways, not least that we can view the unmerciful servant as a figure beyond redemption and of course one we would never be like…or might we?

God forgives because that is the heart of love, his for us. He also enables us to be agents of forgiveness, the unmerciful servant had the option to forgive but chose judgment and retribution.

Help us Lord to make the choices that speak of Jesus in our daily lives we pray. Amen.

You can print a copy of the Forgiveness Process handout mentioned by Rev Louise here

Part 3: Seeking Forgiveness – Rev Simon

Bible Readings: 1 John 1:5-2:2  and Matthew 5:21-25 

Inertia is tempting for us all, when we reach a place of contentment and peace. Often we can hear ourselves say ‘I wish this day would never end’ such is the feeling of euphoria that it brings. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, there are always things that need to be done and situations that need to be resolved.

The previous sermon looked at forgiving others, in this one we focus on seeking forgiveness, not only because we may need to, for our actions and inactions, but because we are called to be agents of it. Even when we may be the wronged party. True forgiveness can only be fully realised when those who have suffered, forgive the perpetrators or affirm the contrition in them. We have a natural tendency to avoid difficult and challenging situations, believing that magically time will resolve issues. It is people not time that resolve relational fractures.

May we be given the strength and courage to seek forgiveness wherever and whenever it is needed by God’s grace.