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Psalm 32, Leviticus 8:10-15,
2 Cor. 5:11-21, Mt. 18:15
A few weeks ago, I shared a message on Healing, and Reconciliation with the Indigenous People of Canada. Reconciliation Sunday is noted in our liturgical calendars, and is a time to consider how we can reconcile and heal past atrocities committed against our indigenous brothers and sister in Christ.
Today we will look at Reconciliation again, but in terms of how we are reconciled to God, and how we reconcile ourselves to one another. The term too of “Healing” is important; because of course healing is what occurs when we are reconciled to God or to one another. All of the readings refer to how we are reconciled to God. It is only the Matthew verse which refers to our reconciliation with one another, for we cannot be reconciled to one another until we are reconciled to God. We have dealt with reconciliation a number of months ago, but often having used other words to describe this process. I have shared sermons on grace, mercy, redemption and salvation, but they are for the purpose of reconciliation. I believe that we have also discussed, that when humanity is reconciled to God then all of the universe (the cosmos) will be restored to its intended state as it existed at the time of creation.
Sometimes we see the need for reconciliation within the Church. I am not speaking of this congregation or even our denomination. I am speaking of Christianity as a whole. There is tremendous pressure placed on the church today to conform to the will of society. We know from Scripture (Romans 12:2): “2 do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” There are times when the Church conforms to society, for better or for worse, but there are also times that society has conformed to the will of the church. There is a constant tug of war between the two. Healing and Reconciliation continues at all times between both.
Our relationship with God was broken when Adam and Eve first sinned, because of God’s great grace He has sought continuously to reconcile ourselves to Him again, and establish that right relationship that we once held with
Psalm 32 is a Penitential Psalm or a Psalm of Forgiveness. I believe we went through the Penitential Psalms during Lent. We can only begin the reconciliation process by seeking forgiveness for our sin and it is the Holy Spirit who guides us to seek forgiveness. Psalm 32 is a Psalm in which the writer confesses his/her sin, and in faith, knowing that he/she have been forgiven. The first verse of this Psalm addresses the issue of forgiveness: “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Our Old Testament reading came from Leviticus 8:10-15. This passage speaks of the rites of ordination for the priesthood as it related to Aaron. It speaks of Moses taking the anointing oil and anointed his head to consecrate him. By doing so he is dedicated to serve God’s divine purpose. This is one step in the reconciliation of humanity to God; through the Old Testament Law. Aaron was of course not the only individual to be reconciled to God during this time. There would have been many others that would have been known by God as being righteous.
It is not until we read the Corinthian passage, having moved into the Gospel of Christ – the New Testament in His blood that we understand we have been reconciled to God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – that is his atonement for our sin. Had it not been for the grace of God this would not have been possible. Being repentant then of our sins we no longer need to carry the burden that Christ bore for us. Christ has died, and risen that we are redeemed, and that salvation, by his death and resurrection is made possible for us.
Romans 5:18 states this so clearly for us when it says:
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
When we look at the last reading which was Matthew 18:15 it read: 15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. We are to correct one another in love, and as 1 Peter 4:8 states: 8” Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” What a wonderful verse this is. This verse parallels the Penitential Psalm that we just talked about in that it speaks of forgiveness – “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven., and Jesus of course commands us to love one another as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.
We experience reconciliation today through our conversion. For some of us it is a particular moment in our lives when we became aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. For others, it is something that takes place gradually but the end result is the same in that the individual becomes aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in them. In each type of conversion, it is always the work of the Holy Spirit which accomplishes God’s will for us.
I would like to speak for a moment about the messages that I will be bringing forward during the next five weeks. As some of you may know this is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. I will not be here on Reformation Sunday. I will be in Israel so I have chosen to share these messages with you beginning July 30 and ending Aug. 27th. The sermons will be based on each of the Five Solas of the Reformation, beginning with Sola Gratia or Grace Only. These are the five most significant elements that the Theologians of the Reformation held in common. Most Protestant churches observe the Five Solas, but not all churches do. Sometimes they will appear in a different order, but that is not significant.