Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fire On The Cross: Tinney Chapel at Hynson Chapel on Father's Day

Click on any image to view it in larger format and/or click on the arrow below to view the sermon and burning cross video.

Forgiveness: The Essential Christian Attitude

Rev. Sue Gross, Pastor of Tinney Chapel UMC, made it clear that Christians can not afford to overlook forgiveness in their lives as she filled the pulpit at Hynson Chapel CME Church on both Father's Day and Hynson Chapel's 67th Annual Homecoming Celebration.

Not only do we derive real health benefits from the practice of forgiveness, she emphasized, but it's also essential for Christians who, themselves, want to be forgiven for their trespasses, especially by God The Father.

But that's easier said than done, she conceded, and suggested that we aren't really up to the practice without help from the Holy Spirit, who reminds us that Jesus has already paid the price for our sins by his sacrificial death on the Cross.

Pastor Sue related the Parable of Jesus from Chapter 18 of Matthew's Gospel. There, Jesus describes a servant who is forgiven by his king for a substantial debt. Just forget about that big debt, it has been forgiven! So, the servant departs in a good mood until he runs into another person who happens to owe him a relatively small amount of cash, for which he demands immediate payment or debtor's prison. In the end, the forgiving king learns of this atrocious, unforgiving act, calls him back before him, reinstates the large debt, tongue-lashes him appropriately and sends him to jail.

The bottom line, said Pastor Sue, is that God The Father will not forgive us unless we also forgive others.

Why is this a hard lesson to get across? Perhaps, suggests Pastor Sue, it's because Satan is such a good salesman. We may begin to pay more attention to Satan than to God, and one definition of sin is, after all, the absence of God. The Greek word for sin is debt, perhaps meaning that when we sin, we dig ourselves deeper into debt?

When we don't forgive, we strain our own relationship with God, and only God is sufficiently perfect to demand repentance before granting forgiveness. We, as mere humans, can't afford to do that. We must forgive without demanding repentance. Here, the Pastor quoted Isaiah 53:6: Like sheep, we have all gone astray.

Neither can we afford to forgive without also forgetting, added Pastor Sue. To do otherwise is to fail to forgive from the heart, a necessity for pleasing God. When we truly forgive, it must be the same thing as a full pardon. The slate must be wiped clean.

The Pastor mentioned at least two personal instances in her family in which forgiveness once appeared an impossible goal, but over time it happened and a right relationship with God was resumed.

Rev. Gross also cited seven steps toward gauging your progress toward forgiveness:

1. Ask yourself if you have been hurt.
2. Confess that you have sinned against God.
3. Acknowledge that God did not retaliate against you, but sent His Son to the Cross.
4. If you don't forgive others, God can not forgive you.
5. With God's help, consider working toward total forgiveness.
6. Daily request that God give you the power to forgive.
7. As you become successful, ask God if you should let the other person know that you have forgiven them, a step that may not always be a good idea.

Christians must model the process of forgiveness, said Pastor Sue, if the world is to experience reconciliation.

To demonstrate the power of God's forgiveness, Pastor Sue asked everyone in this joint congregation of Anglo-Americans and African-Americans to write on a piece of paper something or someone for whom forgiveness is in order in your life and then nail that paper to the Cross that stood near the pulpit.

Afterward, she used the Christ candle to ignite the papers, which suddenly burst into bright flame (see photo above and late in the video) which consumed all the papers, leaving no trace of the papers or the reference to sins!

That's the way God operates for believers!

On this day of the extended worship service (two hours), Rev. Herbert Scott was the Presiding Elder and Pastor, Mrs. Johnnie Wright, Event Chair, Mrs. Rachel Washington, Musician, Ms. Virlee Shaw, Devotional and Memorial Prayer. The Tinney Chapel choir performed with piano accompaniment by Molly Mathis. Other invited clergy: Rev. Craig Duffey, Faith Building Ministries, Rev. Michael Rush, Oak Grove CME Church, Rev. Ricky Abraham, Mount Lebanon CME Church, Elder Wilkie Webster, Mount Olive Church of God in Christ and Rev. Tommy E. Shelton, Tranquil Baptist Church.

Hymns included Blessed Assurance, Yield Not To Temptation, Hold To God's Unchanging Hand and the Tinney Chapel medley.

It was a memorable day for all.

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