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Today's Lectionary Text
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
When I read two of the lectionary scriptures for this week two themes emerged: Judgement and Forgiveness. That conjured one thought in my head: the musical “Hamilton.”
I’m surprised it took me this long to write about the musical that has taken the world by storm. Now that it’s available to anyone with a Disney+ subscription I expect its popularity won’t fade anytime soon. I admit I tried to read the book by Ron Chernow that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda. It may have been the wrong season for that book, but I have no idea how he read it for relaxation. I am however glad he did and turned it into something accessible (if maybe not entirely historically accurate).
In the first act we meet a brash and ambitious Alexander Hamilton coming from nothing, using his brilliance, wit and opportunity to propel him to higher places. It’s pointed out by Aaron Burr that he must be the smartest in the room and spends time casting judgement on doubters and naysayers of both himself, his friends and George Washington.
During Act 2 we meet a different Hamilton. One broken and humbled, cast down from the heights of power with doors shut to him, no longer in the rooms where decisions are made. He is picking up the wreckage of his life brought on by disasters of his own making brought down upon himself and his family.
The strength of his long-suffering wife is on display in one of the most heart wrenching moments that guarantees to have me bawling every time. In the song “It’s Quiet Uptown,” they sing about forgiveness. This is after their son is killed in a duel defending his father. Alexander is reeling from the death, finally seeing what his boundless ambition has cost him and his family. He takes the moment to move forward with Eliza with her incredible gift of forgiveness.
We know from history that Hamilton is killed in a duel by Burr. He and Burr spar throughout the show, two brilliant men, sometimes rivals, sometimes allies but never really friends. From the beginning Hamilton is headstrong, quick to judgement, foolhardy and incredibly lucky. Burr is steady, cautious, weighing all the sides before making a calculated move.
Both judge each other and both are loathe to forgive one another. It ends in a duel where no one really wins.
I think we know that judgement is the easy path. It comes naturally. We make assumptions about people based on something they say, the way they look, or their social media posts. Forgiveness is a much harder path. It requires real work, empathy, hard conversations that open wounds so that they can properly heal.
I wonder what would have happened if George Washington had sat them down and told them,
“Judgement is easy gentleman, forgiveness is harder.”
Let us take a lesson from the scriptures and history to step back from the easy path of judgement. Think about broken relationships in your life where healing needs to happen, where forgiveness can begin. What steps can we take this week, this month, this year to step back from the habit of judgement and begin the hard, necessary work of forgiveness.
Communications administrative assistant
Prayer for Reflection
Father God help us to shine the light on those areas where we can improve. Help us to take those first steps out of judgement and help us find the path to forgiveness.
This Week's Lectionary
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