Seventy Seven Times?

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It’s kind of funny but I’ve had several posts recently about forgiveness, repentance and sacrifice. Then this morning we had the Gospel reading from Matthew 18 where Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and gets an answer that basically means “as often as necessary”. Good words and certainly food for thought in the sermon preached from them.

But what really struck me today was the Asperges and renewal of our baptismal vow together as a community. The sermon ended and the priest blessed the water and we recited our renewal of our vows together, with one voice:

Celebrant: Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your committment to Jesus Christ?

People: I do.
Celeb:??Do you believe in God the Father?
People:I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Celebrant:Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven,and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Celebrant:Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People:I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Celebrant:Will you continue in the apostles? teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the
prayers?
People:I will, with God?s help.

Celebrant:Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People:I will, with God?s help.

Celebrant:Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
People:I will, with God?s help.

Celebrant:Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People:I will, with God?s help.

Celebrant:Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People:I will, with God?s help.

There is something about reaffirming these things as a community that is strengthening. We collectively acknowledge our need, our tuning and our task. The priest then dips a hyssop branch in the basin and? sprinkles us with holy water, calling to mind the words of the Psalmist “Wash me with hyssop and I will be clean, cleanse me and I will be whiter than snow…”

We need these reminders of God’s grace both to us individually and to us as a body of believers seeking to serve God in our place. Sometimes we do a poor job of it and sometimes we rub each other the wrong way, but we can turn and be forgiven by our God and by our brethren and there is no limit.

Saints and Scripture Sunday

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5 Responses to Seventy Seven Times?

  1. Seashore says:

    I too have been thinking (and posting) about forgiveness. I know that God will forgive us but I am struggling with what it means to forgive one another. Thanks for your post.

  2. K_Steinmann says:

    Seashore, keep working through it and praying about it…God gives grace for obedience and understanding as we ask him to…K

  3. Dianna says:

    Sigh — forgiveness.

    This is something I struggle with so much — not even so much about forgiving others, but more so about forgiving myself. For me, I try to remember the response … ‘with God’s help’. This is what I need to focus on.

    Thanks so much for coming by and linking up to Saints and Scripture Sundays!

  4. K_Steinmann says:

    “with God’s Help” indeed!

    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:18

    The song I learned as a child added “Not just a few things, some things, many or most, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Good teaching there….K

  5. I feel the same way when we recite our baptismal vows as a church community, which we did this Sunday as two children were baptized. It always gives me a feeling of God’s power, working through his community.

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