The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 6C (6/13/2010)

Your Sins Are Forgiven; Go in Peace

Lessons: 2 Samuel 11:26–12:10, 13-15 Psalm 32 (5) Galatians 2:15-21 St. Luke 7:36–8:3

Semicontinuous Series: 1 Kings 21:1-10 [11-14] 15-21a Psalm 5:1-8 (8)

Prayer of the Day: O God, throughout the ages you judge your people with mercy, and you inspire us to speak your truth. By your Spirit, anoint us for lives of faith and service, and bring all people into your forgiveness, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

7:36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

8.1 Afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

St. Luke 7:36–8:3. New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

There is no illusion as to who this woman is. She is a sinner. We don’t know what her sin is — only that it sets her apart from the rest of her community. They know who she is, but she does too. She has come to believe what the world has taught her: that she is unworthy of anyone’s love, much less God’s love. And so her experience of forgiveness is a powerful one. She knows that she has received a great gift, and her sense of thankfulness is equally profound.

She falls at Jesus’ feet, anoints him with more perfume than most people could afford, lets down her hair (something no well respected first century woman would do in public) and dries his feet. Her actions are an indication of what is taking place in her heart. Grace has made a difference — God’s love has changed her — and she responds by saying “thanks” in the only way she knows how.

Jesus can tell the condition of a person’s heart by the character of their behavior. So he chastises those proud Pharisees who think so much of themselves, and he commends and blesses this sinful woman who thinks so much of the forgiveness she has received.

He sees us with the same eyes. There are times when I find myself not unlike those Pharisees: proud, impressed with myself, and convinced that God is fortunate to have me. Yet there are other times when I am so aware of my shortcomings that it is hard to look at my image in the mirror. When I fail as a husband or a father. When I miss opportunities for ministry here at Saint Peter. When my priorities get confused, and I spend far too much energy on matters that are unimportant. In those moments, it is the grace of God that heals my past, points me again into the future, and strengthens me for what God has called me to do. That is the power of God’s grace at work.

Every worship service at Saint Peter ends with words of sending. Those words are not: “You had better get busy with faithfulness, or God is going to condemn you.” Those words are: “Go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.” We gather to hear the announcement of God’s life-giving forgiveness. We gather to be fed by the presence of Christ and nourished for faithfulness. We gather to be led into our future by the power of God’s word. And we leave a thankful people: forgiven for much, grateful for much, and committed to serve Christ joyfully with all that we have.

So go in peace. Serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What did the Pharisees think they knew about this woman?
  2. Why were they disturbed that Jesus let her touch him?
  3. What did Jesus know about this woman?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. When have I been proud in my own faith?
  2. When has the message of forgiveness most deeply touched my heart?
  3. How do I express my gratitude to God?