Feb 26 2018

Pastor Mike at Aztec Methodist Church

In our Lenten study this week we talked about forgiveness. The scripture was Matthew 18:21-22 . It is the passage where Peter asks how many times we “should” forgive someone who sins against us. He asks if seven would be a good number of times (Rabbis of the day said three). Peter seems to say “do we get brownie points for forgiving someone more often?” Jesus reply could be translated either “77 times” or “70 times 7”. The usual interpretation I have heard is that this is by the time we get to 77 or 490 we will be tired of counting and keep going. The author of the study we are using called this “spiritual bean counting”, and pointed out that for those who take Jesus answer literally the time may come when we could threaten, “you only have X more times and I never have to forgive you again”.

The author of our study guide also suggested that the significance of the number seven in the Jewish scriptures offers another interpretation of Jesus answer. The number seven was considered a number of perfection and completion. God created the world in 6 days, but creation wasn’t complete until God had a day of rest and contemplation and enjoyment of what God had created. People were called to emulate this 7th day of rest. The bible is full of other sevens such as the law that every 7th year the land should lie fallow to allow it to rest, and the 7th of these seven year cycles was the year of jubilee when all debts were to be forgiven and people were expected to make peace with one another. The tabernacle held two seven branched candleholders symbolizing the presence of God. Though it hadn’t been written yet the book of Revelation shows that the early church also saw significance in the number: there are the seven churches, and seven Spirits of God, seven trumpets, and seven plagues. In Revelation all of these sevens talk of the culmination and completion of God’s plan.

Thus Jesus talk of multiple sevens in relation to forgiveness may be a reference to the perfection of God’s plan for forgiveness. God through Christ is forgiving our sins, but when we forgive others (and forgive ourselves) we are joining God in this grand plan for the redemption of the Universe. Paul tells us that through the sin of Adam and Eve all creation came under bondage to sin, and through the gift of Christ on the cross all creation will be renewed. When we forgive we are joining in with God’s ultimate plan for humanity. 

Of course forgiveness is not just forgetting or ignoring the harm someone’s words or actions have done to us, but it is the conscious choice to ask God to help us so that those harms do not become central in our consciousness and that we no longer want revenge or retaliation. This is not easy, and it may take time for us to truly mean the forgiveness we offer. God invites us to offer ourselves to the completion of his plan for us: that we are in harmony with God and with one another. It is a wondrous offer and a daunting task. But with God all things are possible. May we all grow in our ability to forgive.

Vaya con Dios

Aztec United Methodist Church

Sunday Schedule

8:45am   Sunday School
10:00am Worship Service

Community Assistance

Community assistance is available between 8:30am and 1:00pm from Monday through Thursday.

Upcoming Sermons

March 18
Submission to God
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

March 25
Palm Sunday
Mark 11:1-11
Mark 14:1-15:47

April 1
Acts 10:34-43
John 20:1-18

April 8
The Risen Christ
1 John 1:1-2:2
John 20:19-31

April 15
Having Eyes Opened
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24:36-48

April 22
Following the Shepherd
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

April 29
Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom
1 John 4:7-21
John 15:1-8

Child Care Available

Child care is available between 8:45am and 11:00am so that you are more easily able to attend the service and Sunday school.

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Daily Devotion

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  • Today’s Reflection WE OFTEN THINK of God’s will as a narrow path down which we must dutifully tread. And if we choose a wrong fork in the road, we consign ourselves irreparably to the hazards of a life other than the one that God intended for us. In this way of understanding God’s will, we […]

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