SERMON TITLE: “Forgiveness: Wrestling with Shame”
SERMON TEXT: Genesis 29:30 – 30:8
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: January 10, 2021, at First UMC
Since the last Sunday of December, we’ve been focusing our attention on the topic of forgiveness. As Christians, we know we aren’t supposed to harbor any grudges or ill will. We’re supposed to practice mercy. We’re supposed to make peace and love other people. We’re supposed to let bygones be bygones. We’re supposed to forgive and forget, so we can let go of sins and embrace a grace-filled future. Yes, yes, yes. All that’s an especially good idea as we move into a new year, filled with new hopes and new opportunities.
But, as most of us know all too well, forgiveness doesn’t always come as easily as we’d like. Life presents many challenges and hindrances to this Christian ideal. Sometimes we need help to accomplish what we’re supposed to do. That’s why, each week, we’re looking at a biblical story and considering what help it might give us in regard to forgiveness. For example, last week, we read the story of Joseph, Mary, and young Jesus fleeing into Egypt to get away from the wrath of King Herod. I made the case that, when we’re dealing with danger, our first priority is to put some quick distance between us and the threat. After the danger is diminished, then we can work on forgiveness.
Of course, not every offensive situation is life threatening, and there are times when fight seems like a better option than flight. Today’s scripture reading gives us a glimpse into the story of Leah and Rachel. Let’s see what we can learn from those two sisters, who worked on their issues of forgiveness by wrestling with shame.