SERMON TITLE: “Forgiveness: Controlling Our Rage”
SERMON TEXT: Genesis 37:1-12, 19-28
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 17, 2021 at First UMC
We’ve all been hearing a lot of details about the angry mob that stormed our U.S. Capitol on January 6th. As various persons are being identified from their pictures, video, and other communications—arrests have been made, and some of the attackers have been described in news stories. One man, who drove to Washington, DC, from Colorado had written a text message saying that he was going to “put a bullet in [Nancy Pelosi’s] noggin on Live TV.” The weapons he took with him included multiple handguns, an “assault rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.”*
Our American First Amendment right to express outrage in words and through peaceful assembly is one thing. The use of violent assaults and threats with deadly weapons is quite another. Some cry foul at those who have wanted to impeach, arrest, limit, and punish—saying that it’s in the nation’s better interest that we quickly forgive and move on. But the lack of remorse and apology, and the necessary massive deployment of National Guard and other law enforcement at the U.S. and 50 state capitols, indicates that forgiveness is an issue for the other side, as well. Upset by an electoral defeat, changes in demographics, and shifts away from traditional patterns of privilege—many Americans are stinging with hurt and loss, and want to lash out and get even. The rage is palpable and frightening.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been talking about forgiveness as a New Year’s resolution that is both worthy of our faithful efforts and fraught with serious challenges. Using the story of King Herod’s threat against young Jesus, we discussed that fleeing from danger might be an essential first step before forgiveness could happen. And, last Sunday—using the story of Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel—we discussed how, before we can forgive, we might have to do some wrestling with shame. Today, we’re heading back into that Genesis soap opera of Jacob’s family for a closely-related, but slightly-different, lesson on forgiveness. This time, I invite you to consider with me that another requirement for forgiveness is controlling our rage.