Credit cards. They can be tricky. You know how those credit limits just keep going up.
Ran mine way up, lost track of it. I ran it up to oh..about…5 or 6 billion dollars.
Needless to say I couldn’t pay it, the credit collection agencies got kind of bloodthirsty, then there was this big surprise, I was forgiven the debt.
It was a miracle! I was so relieved.
But then this strange thing happened, I couldn’t control myself, a friend owed me $12,000.00. Instead of forgiving the debt I set a debt collecting agency after him. I couldn’t control myself.
Forgiveness is a fine thing, but you still have to pay your bills!
Why would I pass the miracle along?
What’s mine is mine! Right?
The crazy things we get caught up in!
Miracles are a hard thing to accept, they are an even harder thing to pass along.
Jesus. His parables cut to the heart of just how foolish we can be and how irresponsibly merciful God is. Grace beyond imagining and counting, a generosity that is just foolish.
Foolish people, foolish parables, foolish God.
So this parable about forgiving 10,000.00 talents, how much is it? It means 150,000 years of wages. Billions and billions of dollars. A foolish debt. A foolish mercy. A foolish unwillingness to pass that mercy along.
A parable of extremes to catch our attention.
The kingdom of heaven is like this extreme parable of extreme debt, extreme forgiveness, and extreme petty hypocrisy.
Miracles are a hard thing to accept, they are an even harder thing to pass along.
The ocean opens and collapses.
The victory of God and the destruction of Pharaoh and his chariots and chariot drivers.
A story of extreme deliverance.
The life of faith can be described as the gift of freedom, the cost of freedom and the life of sharing freedom.
We keep trying to measure that ocean with teaspoons, to dig our way across, counting each drip. But the Grace of God is beyond measure, only extreme parables and stories of extreme deliverance give us a glimpse of the mercy that we are invited to live in and to share.
Which is harder? Facing the level of debt we are in? Or sharing that mercy? Of passing it along? Which is harder?
The life of faith-it is full of conversion experiences. Imagine living with that experience of relief and of sharing it gladly? How to have hearts that are that big? As big as God. As foolish as God. As extreme, as free as God.
I know a man who waited for a heart transplant.
He waited and waited, he finally prayed when time was running out.
And a heart became available and he had the transplant.
The suddenness of the gift and the relief that came with it was devastating for him. He was not a very pious or devout man. Plenty of others were probably more deserving. But he was given that new heart.
A gift so big he didn’t know what to do with it.
A devastating grace that strips away all our merit and we start over with nothing but mercy.
A life of mercy. A life of freedom. A life of sharing that grace.
How do we get there from here?
We are baptized into that journey of growing big enough to hold the resurrection of Jesus and to bring that life to all the dead places in the world. It is a long way from here to there.
The Baptismal prayer follows creation and God’s people through this journey of the Spirit. You’ve heard it many times.
“We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water.
Over it, the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation.
Through it, you led the children of Israel out of their bondage
in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus
received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy
Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death
and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.
We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it, we are
buried with Christ in his death. By it, we share in his
resurrection. Through it, we are reborn by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his
fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in
the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of your
Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and
born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus
Christ our Savior.”
Grace Church has that heart that has been stretched by the extreme, foolish Grace of Baptism. More water than we know what to do with.
It is a mercy that is so extreme that it is just plain foolish and devastating.
Miracles are a hard thing to accept, they are an even harder thing to pass along.