Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We Do Second Chances and I'm Sorrys

Last Sunday was the Oscars.
I love the Oscars.
Actually, I love movies.
I inherited that love from my mother.
It is something that we do together watch movies or talk about the ones we have seen that we think the other would like.
I was thinking about our story of Joseph and if it was a movie it might have ended last week.
Joseph having been sold into slavery, having been falsely accused and thrown in prison is finally vindicated, and given the post of second only to Pharaoh.
He was given a position of great wealth and power.
At that point you could roll the credits.
But this is not a Hollywood story about someone eventually overcoming difficult odds to make it big.
This is a story about family.
And this story can not end until the family is back together.
For that to happen we need to have forgiveness, reconciliation.

Forgiveness is one of those things that sound good on paper.
It is a lot harder to do in the real world.
But the story of Joseph is at the end of the day a story about forgiveness and reconciliation that allows a family to come back together.

In my sister house she has a wall hanging that says:
“In our home we do second chances, we say grace, we do I’m sorrys, we play hard, we do loud really well, we give hugs, we do love, we are family.”
It is a good mission statement for all families.
Because to be a family, in fact, to be in any relationship means that we have to forgive.
At some point in those relationships we are going to mess up.
The other person is going to mess up.
We are going to do something that hurts someone else.
Somebody is going to do something that hurts us.
We are going to be inconsiderate at some point.
And after that happens then we have to decide what to do next.
One option is to store up anger, to become resentful of the wrong that was done to us, and ultimately to cancel the relationship, to walk away.
It is an option.
But is it a good one?
We only get one family?
We are gifted with the people God sent us.
We don’t get to pick who those people are in our lives.
We don’t get to decide what attributes will go into our siblings, or our parents for that matter.
So if we walk away, and again that is an option, we lose out on that gift.

The other option is to forgive, to move on, to let go.
That in my opinion is sometimes the harder option.
We have to learn to trust again.
We have to let go of some of our pride.
What is interesting about the Joseph story is that Joseph chooses to forgive his brothers.
Forgiveness is a choice.
He could have gone another way.
Before the part of the story we read today Joseph is basically toying with his brothers.
Some might suggest he was testing them to see if they have changed.
But I think he is trying to decide if he will forgive them or not.
Our reading for today is that moment when he finally decides to let the past go.
And to see the past for what it was.
Yes, his brothers were wrong, they did him wrong, but good has come out of it.
There is food because of it.
God had plans beyond what he could have seen, or the brothers could have known.
“Now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers is deep and in many ways unbelievable.

I wonder if we are capable of the same kind of forgiveness?
Would you be willing to forgive like Joseph does?
On the other hand it is necessary for our families to forgive.

It was my younger sister’s 40th birthday party on Friday night.
We are close now.
But when we were in high school we fought a lot.
Mainly because she didn’t like being late for school, and I didn’t care.
I was really mean to her at times.
A friend of mine would drive us to school and we would torture her.
It was not nice.
She could have held it against me all my life.
I have heard stories of families that don’t talk to each other for much less then what I did to her.
She found a way to forgive me.
Because of that we are family.
Not because we are perfect, but because of forgiveness.
Because we do “Second chances and I am sorry.”

Joseph found a way to forgive his brothers.
He found a way to put it in a larger context of God’s plan.
He found a way to see good through the bad.
Can we?
What are those relationships in your life that went sour because you couldn’t find your way to forgive?

When we do forgive we become more than we could have imagined.
We find ways to grow that we never would have believed.
We find peace and well being.
We find wholeness.
And most important spiritually we find God, because it is God who ultimately forgives all sins.
It is the God we know in Jesus Christ who calls us all home, to be part of the party.
Jesus told us that God is like the foolish Father who allows his child to run off and spend all of his inheritance.
And then foolishly run after him and embrace him, throw a party for him.
God is the foolish parent who goes after the older son and begs him to come into the party.
God is the one who forgives our foolishness, our hardened hearts, with grace.

Our world today is filled with hard words and lots of hard hearts.
And what we need now if we are going to remain a family is forgiveness.
It is no small thing.
It really is an unbelievable thing.
Forgiveness holds us together.
And if our human family is going to not just survive, but thrive we need to do second chances and I’m sorry.
We need to come into the party and rejoice with each other.
We need to weep with each other over what we sometimes do to one another.
We need to embrace and kiss each other.
We need to see the bigger picture and trust that God has a bigger plan, so maybe we will not be so petty about the little things.
Forgiveness is the key to it all.

I hope in this season of lent you will forgive.
I hope that your movie ends not with you being vindicated with wealth and power, but with forgiveness and reconciliation.
So that we might all be family and party together.

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