Bethlehem Lutheran Church
4th & Ovington Avenues
Bay Ridge - Brooklyn NY
Dear Members & Friends,
I was surprised at the reaction I received to my sermon last Sunday. Sometimes people tell me my sermon was meaningful or it touched them positively in some way, but that was not the response I got on Sunday. At least five people mentioned to me on Sunday that they really were having a difficult time carrying out my message. What did I speak about on Sunday? I spoke about forgiveness and ridding ourselves of all our negative thoughts and feelings towards others.
We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses/sins, as we forgive those who trespass/sin against us.” I mentioned my practice of using Sunday morning worship as a time to not only ask God to forgive me for my sins, but it is also a time in which I try to cleanse all the negativity from my life. I try my best to get rid of any negative feelings or thoughts I have towards anyone else as I say the “Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness” and pray the Lord’s Prayer and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. This is my weekly opportunity to “get right” with God and “get right” with everyone else.
From the reaction on Sunday it has become very clear to me that many of us have been negatively affected by others in a deep emotional way. I in no way want to downplay the hurt many of you feel, because of the actions of someone else. No one can tell you how to feel and no one really knows how deeply you have been affected by the sins of someone else. The hurt and the pain people feel are real and our response is to lovingly support one another. That is what a close-knit Christian family does. That is what our Bethlehem family does.
For those of us who are having difficulty with negative feelings towards someone else, I say this:
•We love you and will support you. •Forgiveness is spiritual, not mental. When we forgive, it does not mean that we forget. •Forgiveness heals the forgiver just as much as the forgiven. •Forgiveness brings peace.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
Certainly not always an easy task, but it is a wonderful way to live.
In His Service,
Sunday Service at 10:30am
Pastor Paul's March Message