Sunday, April 28, 2013

Editing Out Mercy

This is the introduction to the sermon I preached at First UMC of Brighton on April 28, 2013. You'll find the podcast of the full sermon at Sermon Podcasts - FUMC Brighton.

Years ago, when I was serving another church, a man broke into the church on a weekday night and did a lot of damage to windows, doors and locked file cabinets. Because the church did not keep money overnight in the church, nothing was stolen. Two Sundays later, I received an early morning phone call from a local broadcast news station. A reporter told me that the police had the man who broke into our church in custody. The arrested man had confessed to breaking into several churches in a two county area. The reporter asked if he and his crew could visit that church that morning.

So, with cameras and microphones they came. They interviewed the chairperson of trustees who stood in front of a door where stained glass had been broken out. They took pictures of the exterior of the building and worshippers entering the sanctuary. Then the reporter asked to interview me. His question: "What do you think should happen to this man?" I answered in a "pastor-like" manner. I spoke of mercy and forgiveness. I celebrated that redemption is at the heart of the Christian faith by the power of Jesus Christ. Near the end of my rather eloquent remarks, I did concede that in this life there are consequences for one's choices.

By Ardfern (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0 or  GFDL,
via Wikimedia Commons
That night, our church was on the evening news. There was our chairman of trustees talking, and then I was on the television screen. In the seconds-long portion of my interview that they used, I said, "In this life there are consequences for one's choices."

No word of forgiveness, no word of mercy, no word of love.

By the power and living presence of Jesus Christ, I am convinced that love is a real force in this world. It can heal broken relationships and broken hearts. I also believe that we are tempted, like a news editor creating a story, to edit out the love. We are tempted to lean into our disappointment and fear. We want to publish, for the world to hear, the wrongs done to us, the injustices of life.

What would happen if we refused to edit out the mercy? the love?



         

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