This Sunday we mark the beginning of another year of Sunday School. We also celebrate the sacrament of Communion.
The Scripture Readings this week are:
Exodus 15:1-13 (VU p.876)
THe Sermon Title is Victory, Mourning, Forgiveness
Early Thoughts: When our enemies suffer and we feel victorious what is the appropriate response? Remembering of course that we bear the name of the one who taught forgiveness of those who hurt us and love of enemy.
This Sunday marks the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks known as 9/11. As I remember that day, one of the images that people in North America found so disturbing was people in the ARab world dancing in the streets. However a few short months ago people were dancing in the streets of Washington DC in response to the announcement that the man generally blamed/credited with orchestrating the attacks of 2011 (and several others over the years before that) had been killed [some of us would say assassinated].
Is this the way we respond to the suffering and death of our enemies? Is this the way GOd wants us to react?
Reading the Exodus passage one could easily come to that conclusion. THe Exodus story (written of course by the people of Israel) tells of how God is with the people, leading them forward, fighting on their behalf, destroying their enemies. Little wonder that the people sing and dance (I suspect the Egyptians would have a very diferent version of this story, maybe of the terrorist rebels who slaughtered their people?). But there is a rabinnic tale of how God might have reacted.
The story goes that it was the angels in the heavenly court who orchestrated the Exodus event (apparently God was out of town on business?). God came back just as the waters destroyed Pharoah and his army. The angels were very proud of what they had accomplished. Then one of them noticed a tear in the Divine eye. "Why do you weep, your children the Israelites are free?" "I weep because my children the Egyptians are weeping".
The Matthew passage reminds us that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. It also reminds us that we don't always do that so well. When we have been hurt how are we to react? When we have "won" how should we react?
Ten years ago the world had a choice of how to react. We all know what choices were made by people wielding great power and influence. Was there a more "Godly choice"? Where do we go from here?