PROCESSIONAL: Thy Word (#496 — Blue Hymnal)
INTROIT: "Sing A New Song" (Choir)
OPENING PRAYER: Creator God, You have made us in Your image to reflect Your goodness. You have called us to use our gifts to build Your kingdom. Help us to focus on how to develop our creativity and, at the same time, to seek the wisdom to use our skills to Your glory, and for the building up of the people we serve. In the name of Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
ONE: 0 give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples.
ALL: Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wonderful works.
ONE: Come let us worship the Lord.
OPENING HYMN: #466 "Praise The Lord With The Sound Of Trumpet"
WELCOME: All who come to this sanctuary are welcome companions on this special musical day. You are invited to turn to those nearest you and greet them with words of peace and joy.
SPECIAL MUSIC: Norm Rennie & Rob Ireland "Let's Walk Along/Shoutin' On The Hills"
THE MUSICIANS PRAYER: Oh Lord, please bless the music which we share today, that itmight glorify Your name. May the talent that You have bestowed upon us be used only to serve You. Let this music be a witness to Your majesty and love, and remind us that You are always watching, and listening, from Your throne above. May Your presence and beauty be found in every note, and may the words that are sung reach the hearts of Your people so they will draw closer to You. May Your Spirit guide us through every measure so that we might be the instruments of Your peace, and proclaim Your glory with glad voices. Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: Kevin Harvey "Be Thou My Vision"
RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 96 (Page 934)
SPECIAL MUSIC: Quinn Burrows "The Midnight Special"
PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER: Creator God, because You make all that draws forth our praise and the forms in which to express it, we praise You. Because You make artists of us all, awakening courage to look again at what is taken for granted, grace to share these insights
with others, vision to reveal the future already in being, we praise You. Because You form Your Word among us, and in Your great work embrace all human experience, even death itself, inspiring our resurrection song, we praise You. Lord, You have called us to worship You. We gladly gather. As we praise You, though, our own inadequacy reminds us of how we have broken our relationship with You. Because we have sinned against You, even our worship fails to be what it could. We often treat it as a show. We simply go through the motions, failing to recognize that You want to engage us deeply.
Renew us, we pray, according to Your steadfast love. Remind us of Your
covenant faithfulness and have mercy on us. Now let us pray together the prayer Jesus taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
HYMN: #422 "Sing A New Song Unto The Lord"
SPECIAL MUSIC: Kim Graham "Hands"
ANNOUNCEMENTS, BIRTHDAYS & ANNIVERSARIES: (Betty)
SPECIAL MUSIC: Stewart Burrows "Jesus Met The Woman At The Well"
SCRIPTURE READING: 2 Peter 1:3-11 Page 1893
SPECIAL MUSIC: Yvonne Langlois "A Time To Gather"
PRAYER OF INTERCESSION: (Choir sings right before prayer- Take, 0 Take Me As I Am)
Creator God, You have made us in Your image to reflect Your goodness. You have called us to us our gifts to build Your kingdom. As we worship this day, we seek to reflect Your image in our daily routine. Help us not only to focus on how to develop our creativity, but also to seek the wisdom to use our skills to Your glory, and for the building up
of the people we serve. In the name of Christ and through the Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.
SPECIAL MUSIC: Diane Morrison "The Rose" annuled
HYMN: #412 "Come Let Us Sing"
OFFERING: This is the time where we make our love visible through the giving of our offerings. Let's give with cheerful hearts.
Offering Received: "Let's Just Praise" Choir
Offertory Hymn #79 (Blue Hymnal)
Generous God; over and over Your grace sustains us, over and over Your
Love provides for us, and over and over Your arm steadies us. We give You these gifts, with gratitude and joy, thankful that You are God over all. Amen
SPECIAL MUSIC: Howard Welburn "Gonna Build A Mountain"
MEDITATION: Using God's Gifts
USING GOD'S GIFTS
A church bulletin ran this notice; "Someone has taken the paper cutter
from the church office and we are in dire need of it. Please bear in mind that without the paper cutter, the sermons will get longer and longer." Well please don't worry, I haven't lost my paper cutter!
We're all here today because we love music. It's been wonderful hearing
everyone sing and the instruments being played. It's been said that music is food for the soul, and I agree. We sing when we're happy. We whistle or hum while we work. We clap our hands or stomp our feet when we hear a lively tune, and we sway to the rhythm of a lilting ballad. I Corinthians 7:7 says "Each man has his own gift from God," and we've enjoyed the musical gifts He has given today.
There's an old joke about a man who, when asked if he could play a violin, answered, "I don't know. I've never tried." This is psychologically a very wise reply. Those who have never tried to play a violin really don't know whether or not they can. Those who say too early in life, and too firmly, "No, I'm not at all musical," shut themselves off permanently from whole areas of life that may have proved rewarding.
Each of us has unknown possibilities, undiscovered potentialities. One big advantage of having an open self-concept rather than a rigid one, is that we will continue to expose ourselves to new experiences and therefore continue to discover more and more about ourselves as we grow older.
This afternoon we have listened to beautiful voices, and heard the sound of guitars, flutes, violins, a euphonium, a saxophone, drums and piano. I remember the first time I picked up my saxophone. I put the mouthpiece between my lips and blew. The most horrifying sound came out and I was convinced this was not the instrument for me. But after several tries and instruction from my Dad, the sound improved. And eventually, after a few weeks of practicing, I was part of the saxophone section in the Ormstown Band.
It's the same for any person wanting to play an instrument or sing. First, we need instruction, a teacher to show us what to do. Then we need to practice, practice, practice. That reminds me of four year Jimmy who was thrilled when he family got a piano. He immediately went to the instrument, got up on the bench and began pounding the keys. After a while he got down from the piano bench in total frustration. "It's no use," he cried. "Jesus Loves Me just isn't in that piano." The moral: You get out what you put in. After some instruction and practice, little Jimmy would be able to play Jesus Loves Me.
The same can be said for anything. You get out of worship what you put into it. You get out of discipleship what you put into it. You get out of prayer,faith, etc. What you put into it. All these things need practice, dedication, devotion and desire to always try to do better.
I want you to think with me, just for a moment, about life as a great
musical instrument and we are all required to play. There are so many people who don't know how to get any music out of this instrument of life. They find fault with life itself. They put the blame on God when they should be blaming themselves. It isn't life that is to blame and neither is it God, if we get no music. It's you and I.
If we want to get music out of life, we must have a teacher, and the world's greatest teacher is Jesus Christ. He gives us our lessons, but we must practice, practice, practice.
Are you getting music out of life? And if you are, what kind of music is it? Is Christ your teacher? Do you practice? When we let Christ teach us and when we follow his teachings and practice what 1-le has taught, our lives will be filled with the most beautiful music which we can share with others. That is our gift from God and we should use it every day.
Let us pray: Gracious and loving God, our souls are filled with the power and joy of Your song of Creation. Our hearts dance to the beat of Your rhythm as we raise our voices in response to Your call. Wrapped in the arms of Your sustaining Love, we offer our gift of music. In the presence of Your Holy Spirit, hearts are stilled to hear, minds are stirred to action and lives may be transformed.
We pray that all who listen will hear with understanding, and open
themselves to feel You presence through the joy in our voices and the passion in our hearts. We pray that all who listen will feel their spirits touched by the wonder of Your mystery, and add their own voices to our joyful noise.
SPECIAL MUSIC: Elisabeth Churchill "You Raise Me Up"
CLOSING HYMN: #410 "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore You"
CLOSING PRAYER: God of majesty, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven; be with Your servants who make art and music for Your people, that with joy we on earth may glimpse Your beauty and bring us to the fulfillment of that hope of perfection which will be ours as we stand before Your glory. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. And now
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN: May the blessing of God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, and of Christ, who summons us to service, and of the Holy Spirit who inspires generosity and love, be with us all.
"Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is
one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us."
- Martin Luther
Once upon a time in their marriage, a fellow, let's call him Jim,
did something feally stupid. His wife chewed him out for it.
He apologized, they made up.
However, from time to time, his wife would mention what he
"Honey," the fellow finally said one day, "why do you keep
bringing that up? I thought your policy was 'forgive and
"It is," said his wife. "I just don't want you to forget that I've
forgiven and forgotten."
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Have you ever
given much thought to that line from the Lord's Prayer? I think
it's fair to say that most of the time, we pray this prayer
without thinking deeply about what we are saying. But today's
teaching from Jesus forces us to give serious thought to our
practice of forgiveness towards others, especially as it relates to
God's forgiveness towards us.
The lesson begins with Peter's question, "Lord, how many times
should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?
Should I forgive as many as seven times?" Peter doesn't literally
mean saying, "I forgive you," seven times over. Throughout the
Bible, seven is considered the number that represents
perfection. So Peter is in essence asking, "If I forgive perfectly,
that should about take care of it, right?" But Jesus response is
not really affirmative. "Not just seven times," Jesus says,
"but...seventy-seven times." In other words, your forgiveness
must be better than perfect, it must be perfect perfection. And
then Jesus goes on to illustrate just what forgiveness should
look like through a parable, known as the "parable of the
Now, this parable is told to a first century audience, familiar
with the economy of that day and the value of talents and so
forth. Because we don't have a full knowledge of the value of
money and various denominations of money in that time, it's
hard for us to understand the immensity of what Jesus is
conveying here. So let me try and put this servant's debt in
perspective. In the first century Roman world, a talent was
equal to about fifteen years' pay for a laborer. Did you hear
that? It took roughly fifteen years for an average laborer to
earn just one talent! And now we have this king who has said
the servant owes him 10,000 times that; 150,000 years worth
of labor! So clearly, this is an absurd amount of money the
servant owed to the king. There really would have been no way
the laborer could have run up such a debt with his master.
Jesus is speaking in hyperbole here in order to convey
unquestionably that the servant owed his master a lot. But the
point is not the exact amount owed by the servant. Instead, the
point Jesus wants to make in this parable is the immensity of
the forgiveness offered by the king. Certainly, what the servant
owed the master was great, but what the master forgave was
Which is why it's so ironic that the servant immediately turns
around and does just the opposite! As soon as the servant has
left the king's presence, he runs across a fellow servant who
just happens to be in debt to him some 100 coins. Again, this is
most likely not a precise amount. But to give you an idea, let's
call the first servant's debt "the ocean," and let's call his fellow
servant's debt "a drop." What this fellow servant owed was
miniscule compared to the debt just forgiven by the king. Still,
though, the unforgiving servant did not show the same
generous forgiveness his master had shown him. In fact, he
offered no forgiveness at all. That's pretty unbelievable, isn't it?
Imagine how we would feel if we had been so generous with
someone, and they turned right around and attempted to take
something from someone else. We'd be pretty angry, wouldn't
we? And the king gets angry as well. When he gets word of his
unforgiving servant, he calls him back and punishes him. Now,
what we have to note here is that the servant is not being
punished because of the debt he owes his master. Instead, he is
being punished because he did not show the same generous
forgiveness the master had offered to him. Just think about
that for a minute, friends. We mess up a lot in our lives. We sin
against God and our neighbor. But if we go to God again and
again seeking God's forgiveness, then Christ tells us, the Father
will generously bestow that forgiveness. But, if we cannot in
turn offer the same generous forgiveness to those who have
sinned against us...well, it's only THEN that God's forgiveness
may not be so readily available. Do you see what I'm getting at?
One message of this passage is that God does not punish us for
the bad things we do; rather, God punishes us for the good
things we do NOT do, our failure to be generous with others as
God in Christ Jesus has been generous with us.
Clearly, forgiveness is serious business. And I do not in any way
want to diminish either the seriousness of our failures, nor the
extreme difficulty in forgiving those who have wronged us. If
we are to receive God's forgiveness, it requires that we repent
of our wrongdoing. This means we have to acknowledge that
we were wrong, we have to approach God in humility, and we
have to seek God's grace. In other words, we essentially turn
ourselves over to the mercy of God. Forgiveness is not just like
some Christmas present that a kindly grandfather gives to his
sulky grandchild, even though the grandchild has been
disrespectful and ungrateful the whole Christmas morning.
Forgiveness requires a change of our hearts, and it results in a
change of our lives.
In the same way, the forgiveness we share with others should
not be bestowed lightly. There are terrible, terrible things that
people do to one another in this world. Children are abandoned
or abused by their drug-addicted parents. Thieves rob us of our
material goods and our sense of security. Terrorists kill
innocent civilians in an effort to get some attention. People lie
to us, take advantage of us, and bully us. And many of us, no
doubt, have been on the receiving end of such hurt at times.
We know it is not easy to forgive, nor is it appropriate to just
flippantly forgive such harm. But if, in time, the person who has
wronged us seeks us out, acknowledges their wrongdoing, and
genuinely asks for our forgiveness, then Christ's message to us
this morning is that we should not withhold it. And if, even
then, we find it difficult to forgive the person who has hurt us,
then at the very least, we should pray to God to help us do
what needs to be done. Maybe even the prayer goes something
like this, "God, will you forgive this person for the hurt they
have caused me? And in turn, God, please help me to forgive
them as well."
Forgiveness is a hard road to walk, but it is the way to life and
life abundant. Forgiveness is the way of Jesus, the way of the
cross. And while revenge may seem to be much easier and
more desirable, it in fact is what leads to bondage and death!
Did you know that the Greek word for "forgive" means to "let
loose"? It's like a really tough knot that suddenly gives way and
becomes completely untied. It's like a dark bondage from which
there is sudden release. That's what it's like to be forgiven. And
that is what it is like to forgive as well!
Forgiveness means to release, to let go of the other, but
forgiveness is not denying or forgetting our hurt. When we
minimize what has happened to us, gloss over it, or tell
ourselves that it was not really that bad, we cannot really
Today, as every year at this time around September 11, we
remember those terrible attacks in New York City and
Washington DC, just a few hours south from us. This was a
major event, causing widespread heartbreak. Perhaps we knew
families hurt by the tragedy; perhaps we ourselves felt hurt by
these obscene acts. This was an event that rocked our world.
An event that changed our world. An event that had incredible,
life changing negative impacts on an entire world.
And perhaps we also remember other pains and the hurts,
fears and angers, not as far reaching, but that have nonetheless
changed our own lives in the last decade.
Forgiveness is only truly possible when we are able to
acknowledge the negative impact of another person's actions in
our lives. And what Christ teaches us is that once we have
acknowledged the hurt, we are to forgive the perpetrators. We
have to make a conscious choice to release those who have
wounded us from the sentence of our judgment, however
justified that judgment may be.
Often we do not really want to forgive someone or ask for their
forgiveness, even though we know we "should." One reason
may be a desire for revenge, and that is surely true for many
when we recall the events of 9/11, or other harmful or hateful
things. We want to get back at the people for what they have
done to us. We may want to return the hurt by inverting the
Golden Rule, "Do unto others as they have done unto us." We
may resist forgiving another because we think that the person
who hurt us ought to do or say something to mend the hurt, or
repay us for what we have experienced. We want to put
conditions on forgiveness, probably because it is so difficult.
But.... The great blessing of forgiveness is that it is a two-way
street, where both the one who is forgiven as well as the one
who forgives are set free. How can we, sinners saved by grace,
those who owe a great debt to God but who have had that debt
cancelled by Christ's shed blood on the cross, by God so loving
and forgiving us; how can we refuse to forgive others? Our
hearts are either open or closed to God's forgiveness. If they
are open, able and willing to forgive others, it shows that they
have truly and for real been open to receive God's love and
forgiveness gratefully and in such a way that saves our very
souls, changing us from the inside out! But if our hearts are
locked up to the love of God they will be locked up from
extending God's love to others. It's basically just a law of
There can be no doubt that this is a hard lesson for us to learn,
both in our thinking and in our acting. This lesson holds up a
mirror for us to see our tendency to withhold the very mercy
and forgiveness we have received.
Think about it, the ONLY righteous judge, Jesus, says from the
cross, "Forgive them." We, from our positions of self-
righteousness, cry out, "Pay me back what you owe!" The key
point of Jesus' words to Peter are that the way of life which
marks out the Christian life is forgiveness! Those who truly
understand the magnitude of God's mercy must may it forward
Not only does Jesus forgive us, but it is only through Jesus'
forgiveness that we, ourselves, can possibly forgive others. As
Jesus' words make clear, those of us who have been forgiven so
very, very much by God through Jesus Christ must take a good
look in the mirror. Those who have been forgiven, must forgive.
Every time we accuse someone else, we accuse ourselves.
Every time we forgive someone else, though, we pass on a drop
of water out of the bucketful that God has already given us.
God does not forgive our sins easily, nor does God expect us to
simply blow off the deep pain that others sometimes cause us.
But when we can acknowledge the cost of our own mistakes,
and let go of the pain and hurt that others have caused us, then
we will find ourselves free of a great burden. Forgiveness is life-
giving. It is an important part of the abundant life Christ has
promised to those who follow him. In fact, forgiveness is the
way of life that will mark out the new covenant community.
And it's not just that Jesus' disciples be forgiving people, but we
must together be a community of forgiveness. Still, there is a
deeper demand of this text, which is to forgive others as our
acceptance of God's forgiveness. "Forgive us our trespasses as
we forgive those who trespass against us." If we are not willing
to share the generous forgiveness that God has shared with us,
then we cannot expect that God will continually be so merciful.
Think of it like this: forgiveness is like the air in your lungs.
There's only room for you to inhale the next lungful when
you've just breathed out the previous one. If you insist on
withholding it, refusing to give someone else the kiss of life
they may desperately need, you won't be able to take any more
in yourself and you will suffocate very quickly. Like those lungs,
if our heart is open, able, and willing to forgive others, it will
also be open to receive God's love and forgiveness. But if it's
locked up to one, it will be locked up to the other.
We can allow ourselves to be robbed of life as we keep pain
and hurt locked up inside us, or we can let it go. The key to
letting it go is forgiveness; allowing ourselves to forgive and to
be forgiven. But grace will not operate if it's not embraced
wholeheartedly. There is a direct connection between God's
saving work on our behalf and the behavior that is expected of
the family of God. Our lives must make obvious who God is and
what God is like. So let us move and live in God's grace,
extending to others what has been so freely given to us.
Here is a question that was posed in the 4th chapter of Genesis. And it has been discussed by bible scholars, by students of the human condition, by writers and by students ever since.
It is the rather surly response to God who asks Cain where his brother, Abel, is. Of course, God knows where he is. He has been murdered by Cain. Not only that. Cain knows that God knows, so his attitude is, “Why ask me when you know full well what happened.”
Isn’t it strange how this story unfolds at the very beginning of the bible writings? Why so early? Why should there be a tale of intrigue and murder so soon after the Creation? Why, in fact, why was there a story of temptation, of giving in to temptation, of disobedience to the Creator God, and of God’s response to man’s disobedience? Wouldn’t you think it might have been more glorious to speak of God and his angels in all their glory, describe the beauty of heaven, and thank God for his great gifts?
I’ve thought of these things, as many of you probably also have. Taking a step back, a step away from individuals like Adam, Eve, Abel, Cain, Seth and so many more, I believe the writers of these early stories were simply trying to make sense of the world as we know it, not necessarily as we would like it to be.
We don’t live in a world without pain. We don’t live in a world without death. We don’t live in a world in which man is always unselfish and kind to his fellow man, his brothers and sisters. But recognizing the truths of our human failings, I also recognize the strong truth that we still look for solutions to our faults. There is an instinct within us that prompts us to search for the RIGHT way to do things. This also is what the bible stories constantly probe. Therefore, we have the question, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” And if the answer is YES, we must be able to answer WHY?
So, it is not simply a story of Cain and Abel. It is a story of jealousy, of hate, of aggression, and of the ultimate crime, that of murder. It is the beginning probe of ethics and of why such heinous crimes are not simple transgressions against God, not simply sins, but actions that result in a dysfunctional world, a world that does…not…work.
As a young man in high school, I loved sports of all kinds, mostly football and hockey, but also soccer and baseball. If you notice, all four of these sports are team events, not the classical individual Olympic events like track and field, but events that require several players working together toward a common goal. I had some pretty good coaches throughout high school and college, and my school, Loyola, won its fair share of championships. How was that accomplished? What our coaches taught us is that in order to WIN, certain basic disciplines must be applied.
But why bother with winning? Why bother with success? Why bother with our fellow men and women? And what is winning anyway? Why is it desirable? Isn’t it enough to just participate and have fun? Isn’t it enough to just do for ourselves?
Well, in my opinion, winning is just a word to describe the attainment of certain challenging goals. Yes, you can be a winner by simply doing the best you can. You can be a winner by achieving certain set personal individual goals. But to be a winning TEAM, you have to rise above your own individual world and include the world of your TEAMMATES. You have to not only do your best. You have to help your teammates to do their best. If one stumbles, another must immediately step up to take his place, to lend a hand. You must recognize what others’ strengths and weaknesses are. You must be willing to BE YOUR BROTHER’s KEEPER. If you do not, your team will fail, and repeated failure in the big world means an eventual failure of your society. You will eventually perish without winning.
Christ recognized this in his parable of the Good Samaritan. The interesting thing to me about that story is that the expert in the law - or lawyer - who challenged Jesus ended up by answering his own questions.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’[d]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”
30 In reply, Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
So, you see, this lawyer had his answers already in his own soul. Jesus only asked him questions. The lawyer was instinctively able to provide the correct answers. In the same way, we instinctively know that we need to be our brother’s keepers. We have the answers in our own conscience. If we are able to think as TEAM players, not as selfish individuals. If we are able to see others as our own brothers and sisters, not as strangers to fear. If we do not allow prejudice and fear, but caring, be our guiding light. The essence of caring for others begins when we are very young. The essence of hatred and fear likewise begins at the same time. I don’t know if I’ve ever sung this little song to you here in Rockburn, so forgive me if you’ve heard it here before. It’s from South Pacific:
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid, of people whose eyes are ugly made
And people whose skins are a different shade, you’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, you’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, you’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
But in our modern world, we often fail to recognize how to be a good neighbour. We often fail to distinguish what it takes to be a good Samaritan. There’s a little story I read about a Scotsman named Jock:
Jock’s mother calls him from Aberdeen.
"How's the flat you're living in in London, Jock?" she asks.
"It's okay," he replies, "but the woman next door keeps screaming and crying all night and the guy on the other side keeps banging his head on the wall."
"Never you mind," says his mother, "don't you let them get to you, just ignore them."
"Aye, that I do," he says, “And I just keep playing my bagpipes.”
We all have trouble being good neighbours sometimes. When someone goes to cut you off on the road, you see him coming, you know exactly what he’s going to do, you have plenty of time to slow down and let him in, but do you? Or, do you speed up and try to keep him from getting in front of you? And when he flashes you his middle finger, do you feel sorry for what you did, or do you give him the finger right back again? I admit there have been times I have done exactly that.
The story of Cain and Abel is a story about a brother killing a brother. It is a shocking story, a cruel story, but it was an act fuelled by jealousy and murderous thought before it actually resulted in the taking of a life.
Luke 10 makes it clear that the thought comes before the deed:
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
And Matthew makes clear that while it is a good thing to attend church and to offer sacrifice, it is even more important to settle your differences with your brothers and sisters.
Matt 5 23-24
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
You see, it’s easy to hold a grudge and to keep a wall of silence between you and your neighbour, friend, or family member. And, it’s easy to let your pride take over when, instead of making up over some differences, you decide to “never talk to him again.” It’s easier in the short run, perhaps, but sometimes such an attitude can become hardened, neither side gives way, and you may end by taking your differences to the grave. I can guarantee you that if that happens, you will be forever sorry, and too late to do anything about it. Better to make amends now while you can. Better to be ‘brothers’ again, even if you feel he or she was the wrong one. Go to him, knock on his door, and say, “Hey, bud! Look, I just want to say I’m sorry. Can we forget about all this and just be friends again?” I guarantee you won’t regret it. I know. I have been there. Better to be your brother’s keeper than to let the wound fester until your relationship is dead.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
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