Sermon for September 10, 2017 14th of Pentecost “.002”
Last week I mentioned that there are 28,400.002 seconds in a day. That calculation is based on the atomic length of a year that includes the hours, minutes and seconds that our 12 month calendar misses. And that got me to thinking about the significance of the wee tiny things. So what if we just said ‘whatever’ to those .002 seconds. Well with 7 billion people in the world and if we all did that we would say ‘whatever’ to 3883 hours. By itself .002 does not seem like much but when stacked up they add up.
Have you ever heard the expression penny wise pound foolish, have you had a close call and said whoa a spit second one way or another and I would have been a goner. Does .002 matter to Andre Grasse or Usaine Bolt or any of the other times sports where thousandths of a second matter. Our Gospel today says where two or three are gathered I am there. What if we said ‘whatever’ to those two or three? In another story two tiny copper coins are vital to life and the mission of the church and yet even then the leadership was quick to point out the deficiency and Jesus was quick to point out the extravagance. Last year not many people saw Michael on his hands and knees cleaning the corners, nooks and crannies of the church rooms, and yet we all noticed that even those forgotten bits were clean and shiny, just like the rest.
Growing up in Beaver Bank on a small hobby farm, there were always chores, lots of chores. I can remember dad saying: if you are going to do a job do it well. That usually pertained to chores, the mowing is not done until the trimming is done, you have to pull the small weeds too, the tiny potatoes and as important as the big ones and so on. One of the pre-eminent biblical scholars of our day is Dominic Crossan and he says that the bible is understood in its minutia and its context. The tiny bits matter to understanding the whole.
The Gospel lesson is about forgiveness and the righting of wrongs and a good and honourable process to ensure that there is justice. This text needs to be balanced with the text that challenges us to see the plank in our eye before we accuse our neighbour of a speck in theirs. I listened with interest, humour and a nodding in agreement head to CBC this past week when there was a sketch on the Canadian way of saying sorry. Part of it was funny and poked fun of the various ways that we constantly use the word sorry. Another was the restoration of hope and live when a mother was able to forgive the man who killed her son.
I have seen many times power and life giving energy of forgiveness and I have seen the anguish and the depletion of life when forgiveness is withheld and vengeance is sought. It is perhaps why Jesus spends considerable time on forgiveness and why the greatest command is to love God, yourself and others especially your enemies. So when the first part of the Gospel ends with: “if they do not listen to the church then treat them as tax collectors and pagans” it is not a curse upon them, it is a call to love them.
The little things matter, even the .002 thousandths of a second matter. It is what we do with the little things that define the big things. For as the Gospel lessons ends we hear: where two or more are gathered, there I am also.