What about Judas? A Question of Forgiveness

Grace and Peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

We have all stood in the place

Of the Prodigal Son

We have fallen away

From the embrace of God

Away from the community of faith

But each time we return

The Creator runs to us

Loving us

And giving us,

Grace

Through His Son,

Jesus Christ Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

 ‘Don’t it always seem to go,

That you don’t know what you got

Until its gone-‘

Sacred words and truth telling

Can be found not only in the Gospel

But the message can be found in the ordinary

Because we are quick to forget

And quick to rely on the human made

Which crumbles in an instant

And when we have destroyed something beautiful

Fingers are pointed

Painful words are used

Especially as labels

Labels that stick to our being

Describing us as less than

Worthless

Squanderer

Unjust

Undeserving

Which welts up our skin

Never mind the Cross

However faded

However dusty

However permanent upon us

Humanity attempts to strip that one identifying mark on us

As part of the beloved community

Miss Erykah Badu sings,

‘If we were made in His imagine,

Then call us by our names.’

Instead of renaming us

As a Judas

Judas, that beloved disciple

Who humanity has judged to be unforgiveable

Never mind that Jesus Himself never condemned Judas

“Woe to you, that you were born”

(pause)

So imagine the disciples

Abused,

Chained

Imprisoned

Martyred

In this life,

Now gathered with the saints

Watching perhaps, Judas coming into view

Watching perhaps, the Creator God stepping from the cosmos

Wrapping,

Enveloping

Welcoming Judas

Home.

And I wonder

If they experienced a nanosecond of human perplexity

Of why?

Why was forgiveness bestowed upon this prodigal son?

(pause)

And I know that our Gospel this morning is about an unknown prodigal son

And not particularly focused in on Judas,

But,

Both discarded the lessons and the love embedded within

Seized the resources, and frivolously tossed them for egotistical gain

Recognized the error of their ways

And began a journey driven by desperation

Reaching for redemption and forgiveness

One groveled in the earth, accepting his perceived fate to be a slave

One returned to the earth, accepting his fate of death.

(pause)

Beloved, we have heard this well told parable time and again

And memories flood about what meanings surround this story

Of the Prodigal Son,

And I am sure we’ve taken this parable,

And applied it to the prodigal sons and daughters

We have encountered in our lives

Children who have been wasteful with the richness they have been given

The richness in the lessons, and the time, and the teachings of Sunday School

Who finished Confirmation classes, and seemingly left the Church

Disregarding the community of faith which nurtured them

Instead challenging all of the traditions, the rules, the laws of the wider Church

Seemingly clinging to everything that fed their ego in this world

Rebelling against the comfortable norm that we have resigned ourselves to

And then

There is a desire to return

Life has left a sour taste in their mouth

Maybe they have not found the answers in fleeting wealth

Maybe their faith search has left them with more questions

Maybe the world has grown too harsh

Maybe they have gambled everything that should have been dear to them

Maybe they just have been released from prison

Or a Halfway house

Or a shelter

Maybe its been 90 days and their clean and sober

Maybe the voices have stop beating them about the head

Maybe they’ve found the strength to come out of hiding

And all they want, is to be a part of something

Hoping that if they throw themselves at our feet

They will be enfolded and accepted

Maybe they are trying to reset and reboot their lives

Maybe they just want to know that someone gives a damn

Never mind that the Cross

However frayed

However worn

Clearly is marked

Upon who they are

Because no matter how far they fall

No matter how we fail

We are always welcomed back Home

And that is what this Lenten journey is, beloved

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Throw our temper tantrum towards God

Because we found out God is not our fairy godmother

Merely existing to grant our wishes,

So that our lives can be easy

Because we didn’t do what we were told

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Complain that following the commandments of Jesus Christ

To love one another

To actually be in community

Is too hard

Because it is easier to reject , to hate

(pause)

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Run away from the Light and Love of Our Parent

We would rather sit at a table that feeds our glorified self-image

But then,

There is emptiness

And then

The tears, which wreck our selves

The shame

The begging

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;

 I am no longer worthy to be called yours

treat me like one of your hired hands.”

Does God condemn us as the world does?

As perhaps we deserve?

NO

God drags us into God’s arms

Regardless of what we have done!

The Good News is that just as this unknown prodigal son

When we follow the well-known, well lit pathway Home

Because Home is where Love and Mercy and Peace prevail

When we return home, a sinner

God Loves Us and Greets US as if we were Heroes!

Because here, beloved is where God wants us!

HOME, with GOD!

When we are reckless with our lives,

With what God has given to us,

The ability to serve, and serve others

To do for others

The Creator God stretches out of Godself

Embracing us with songs of Thanksgiving

And the Good News is,

There is nothing we can do to make up for what we have done

Or the fact we maybe have not lived up to what God has in store for us

And that is alright!

Because that is what God’s Grace and Mercy MEANS!

(Pause)

But sometimes the road home

Is difficult to navigate

Treacherous to travel

Because we have to empty of ourselves

Live into the humbling reality

That we have truly been unsuccessful

That we have been wrong,

And somehow we have hurt God by hurting those who love us so

Judas in desperation wanted healing from his wounds that were self-inflicted

He wanted perhaps to know the Peace he had known

when he had walked alongside Jesus Christ

That this atrocious act he had committed

That there would always be a place at Home for him

Sometimes, when we have clawed our way to the top,

Casting aside friendships and relationships for one moment of glory

And see the devastation in our wake,

That we created

Out of despair we claw for reconciliation

Within ourselves,

Because we can no longer live with who we have become

Just as many prodigal sisters and brothers in Christ

Who have come to the conclusion that they too, are not worthy of forgiveness

And instead, take their precious gift and resource of life

And throw it away

But the Good News is,

Even when they have been tricked

Neglected

Battered by the lies of this world

When they too, walk down that same pathway towards Home

Their souls, just like the prodigal’s son clothing

Tattered

Ripped

Worn

The Creator God, who loves US all

Runs to welcome them

As if they are as precious as the wind of life blown into us at birth

Covering them with new clothes

Of stars eternal

Of new life everlasting

Of forgiveness and mercy.

(pause)

So many unknowns, right?

Did these brothers reconcile?

Did the younger son learn his lesson?

Did the father uplift his older son?

Was Judas forgiven?

Such a mystery-

But what is clear,

When we have failed,

God forgives

When we have faltered

God forgives

And because of Jesus Christ,

There is always a place

At the Table

At Home

For Us.

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

 

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