Sermon Notes for Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare) 2003
“The person who is weak in faith eats only vegetables, the strong in faith can eat anything.” ( Romans 14:1-4)
Some of you might be sitting here on the edge of Great Lent thinking, “Good, I’m strong in faith, so I can eat anything this Lent, and not just vegetarian foods like those who are weak!”
But Paul’s message is: Fasting is not about you!
Fasting is not a self-centered activity! Fasting makes us more aware of others and their needs. Fasting is not a self-love activity, but an activity to increase love for the other, for the neighbor, for the poor and needy, for those who are weak in faith.
So if you fast in order to say “Look at me I’m not eating meat or cheese or eggs for 40 days, I’m a superior Christian!” Then, you have failed in the basic meaning of the fast and are no different than the Pharisee in the parable of the Publican and Pharisee. “If you look around and say, I and my family are fasting, but the Smith family and their children hardly keep the fast at all.” Then again you have missed the point of the fast.
We are fasting to increase our love for others by paying less attention to our selves, to our wants to our needs. Use Great Lent as a time to put aside your self-centered self-love, and look to the needs of others. Find someone who is hungry for food and feed them, or someone who is spiritually hungry and nourish help them. To do that you have to be able to see and pay attention to the needs of another. And you can’t do that if you are constantly focused on yourself.
“I don’t know if I can live 40 days without meat. I can’t survive Lent without cheese. I’ll go nuts if I turn the television off for 40 days.” What’s wrong with that picture?
It’s all “I” focused. It’s all about “me”, “myself”, “I”.
The philosopher Diogenes was quite famous but very poor. One day he was sitting eating his usual meal of bread and cooked lentils, all that he could afford. Another philosopher walked by Diogeneses. This man was Aristippus who was not nearly as well known as Diogenes but he lived a prosperous and comfortable life by constantly flattering the king.
Aristippus said, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king, you would not have to live on lentils.”
Said Diogenes: “Learn to live on lentils and you won’t have to be subservient to the king.”
Think about that story. Who are you subservient to: God or your self? Which one is really your God?
Today is forgiveneness Sunday: What remakes community when community has been lost?
Forgiveness and reconciliation.
What do the forgiven need to ask forgiveness about?
For the way we don’t live community.
We sin against the community of the redeemed when we don’t care about that community or the others in it.
We come to forgiveness Sunday and many will want to go home without forgiving or being forgiven.
Some here will say, I hardly know these people, no one here has sinned against me and I’ve not sinned against them.
It is my friends a sin that we haven’t cared enough to come to know one another, that we haven’t interacted enough to offend someone, that we feel no need to ask forgiveness of others for our failure to be community, to love and care.
Aren’t I free to do as I please?
Too bad for the others then!
NO! The others are our concern. That’s what it means to love rather than be self centered!
In community, in the Church of Christ, we are to build one another up. If we aren’t building one another up, if we don’t really care about the others, then we are sinning against them.
If we have sinned against one another, we need to seek forgiveness from one another.
What do the forgiven always need to remember?
That we are forgiven gratuitously. We are forgiven by love, not because we deserve to be forgiven.
And for that we need to take the time to thank one another.