Sermon: A Little Quiz

Sunday, 05 March 2017 03:00
Hits: 236 Written by Mark Giroux


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Time for a pop quiz.

Here we are in Lent. In this particular season of the church year, a big theme is forgiveness. So, I have a three-part quiz for you on forgiveness.

Once upon a time, a mother had been sick for several days. Her six-year old daughter wanted to help. So the little girl brewed some hot tea for her mom, hoping to help her feel better. She brought the tea to her mom, and waited for her to drink. Then the daughter waited for her mom to tell her how great it was.

Mom took a sip, and asked her little girl how she made it. "Just like you do, Mommy. First I took the leaves and boiled them. Then, I strained them." Her mom asked, "What did you use to strain them?" The daughter replied, "Well, I could not find the strainer. So I used a fly swatter."

Now, the look on mom's face told this girl that something was wrong. So she reassured her mother. "Don't worry, Mommy, I didn't use the NEW fly swatter! I used the OLD one!"

Question number one: could you forgive that?

Me, neither.

Isn't it great that God is better at forgiveness than we are?

Okay, three guys are out in a boat on a lake. They are fishing buddies, and they are all preachers. The fish are not biting, so they are talking. They know that confession is good for the soul. So they decide to confide in each other a little bit. They are going to share that one sin that gives the most trouble in their spiritual lives.

The first preacher says his weakness is materialism. He really likes the good things of life, and whenever he moves to a new church, his first consideration is always the size of the salary being offered.

The second preacher says his secret sin is an addiction to gambling. He bets on football, golf, and horse racing. He's a little concerned that it might get out of hand.

The third preacher, the one in the back of the boat, doesn't say anything. He just turns the outboard motor and heads for shore fast.

The other preachers say, "Hey, what's the hurry? You haven't made your confession yet!" The third preacher says, "Well, my worst sin is gossip, and I can't wait to get home!"

Question number two: Could you forgive that?

Me, neither.

Isn't it great that God is better at forgiveness than we are?

Okay, last one. There was a Little League baseball game. They didn't have enough umpires, so a dad was pressed into service as the third base umpire. His ten-year old son was on one of the teams.

Right behind third base, a loud-mouthed fan of the other team was sitting. This guy was heckling and trash-talking a lot. When the umpire's son came up to bat, the guy yells, "Roll the ball to him! He can't hit!" The boy got so upset, he struck out.

Next time he came to bat, the guy was at it again. "Get that girl a dress! He can't play in this league!" Later that same inning, this boy dropped a fly ball.

The boy came up to bat for the third time. Rude guy yelled again, "Easy out! Easy out!" But the boy got a hit this time. He punched the ball into the outfield. The boy rounded first and second bases, and then went to slide into third for a triple. The throw from the outfield came in plenty of time. The boy was tagged out by a foot.

His father the umpire yells, "Safe!" The trash-talker ran down on the field and started yelling at the umpire. "Safe!?! Whaddaya mean? Everybody could see he was out by a mile! Just what kind of umpire are you?!?" The umpire answered quietly, "Not a very good one, I guess. But I'm one heck of a dad."

Question three: Isn't it great that God is so much better at forgiving than we are?

I think God loves us like that umpire loves his kid. Scripture calls God our Creator, our Judge, our Lawgiver. But Scripture also calls God our Father in heaven. And Scripture says that God loves us, no matter what.

Our psalm today started with these words: "Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!" That's us.

Whatever else Lent is, it's also a festival of forgiveness. We are offered a clean slate, a fresh start, a new beginning. It turns out that even if we flunk the quiz, we can count on the love and forgiveness of the One who created us, and who calls us to new life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

That's the good news of Lent,

and of Easter,

and of the gospel all year long.


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Worship Services at St. Mark's


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  • 10:00am Holy Eucharist
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