“The bark is worse than the bite”

“The bark is worse than the bite”

Romans 12:1-12,
Matthew 18:21-35

Two and a half years ago we travelled to just out of Echuca to pick up a pup for Josh who he named Kobe (after Kobe Bryant).  After getting home within weeks he had contracted the deadly Parvo virus, a kind of Ebola for dogs which unattended means certain death and attended means possible life. Essentially they cannot eat or drink even though they want to and eventually die from dehydration. After three days in the animal hospital on a drip and I picture reading the paper, watching T.V. (and fifteen hundred dollars later), he was released fit and healthy with the same playful, loving and non-grudge holding personality traits as he had before his illness. Except for one thing. He, as it seemed that from maybe his illness symptom of not being able to eat food, till this day is very over protective when eating. To the point that when I get to close to his food bowl I normally receive a gruff response. To which my reply is always: Isn’t that wonderful. I work to buy your food. I drive to get your food. I heat your meat and mix it with your dry food-just how you like it, deliver it to the said dog bowl and this is the thanks I get.

Our reading from Romans talks of not judging others for things in worship and by extension life for what is important to them and how they see things. And as always, before I talk to you, the scriptures have always there work in me and accordingly, the other morning I found myself waking to the revelation that I am no different to Koby in that apart from the presence of fleas (in that I flea Koby but not myself), I too am provided everything not from my own abilities but by and from the love and mercy from God, and yet often my response does not seem to be over appreciating or trusting.

Currently I don’t bark and as yet haven’t had the Parvo virus and I assume you to be the same. But ironically most of us do have similar symptoms to where past “stuff” has shaped us to be who we are and how we respond to things and situations in our lives.

Reponses that born through earthly experiences may or may not be advantageous to others around us.

So God instructs us further in the Gospel where he shows us, that as we have received his forgiveness and been freed from his judgement, so are we to be to others.

So how does that look?

Does this mean dragging ourselves around in seeming misery to show our poor sinful state or always jumping for joy in the wonderment of life?

It’s not really that easy and ssometimes the confusion of life, death and everything in between causes us to think like Robbie Williams when he sings:

I sit and talk to God
And he just laughs at my pledge
(so) Come on hold my hand
I wanna contact the living
Not sure I understand
This role I’ve been given.

Talking to God is good, but more so is listening. So we listen: Romans Chapter 14, verse 7 and on:

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the living and the dead. (So) why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister.

If we die we die to the Lord and if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and your Savior-your sins are forgiven and you are saved to be raised to eternal life.

There is a great bedtime prayer we teach our children, and for me, still the form in which I rest as I slip into unconsciousness:

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake,

I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.

(Do you know that beautiful prayer of trust and faith?)

But if we live, we live to the Lord now, so you might like to add:

“If I should wake before I die,

I pray Thee, Lord, to show me why.”

In God we trust and through us we pray his will be done to the living as it has been done in the sure hope of our dying to awake in his heavenly presence.

You are the Fathers creation and He, The Son and the Holy Spirit have made you the special person that you are today, that in you giving a smile, lifting up the weak or called to speak before thousands you can attest that though our road has been long and arduous, or short and sweet-our roads have been blessed for we now know the truth:

That we can be strong and of a good courage and fear not, for the Lord our God, it is he who goes with you and he will never fail nor forsake you. For your faith does not stand in the wisdom of men or women, but in the power of God. For it is by grace you have saved through faith not of yourselves but from his gift. The gift he gives willing that not any should perish but come to repentance and receive eternal life.

You have received the gift of faith, forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ alone and yet that be the case, daily we repent and turn back to God the Father, and in turning to God we see ourselves clothed in Christ, and in Christ we see him clothed in those that come before us-not to hear judgment, lies or ridicule-but to hear the truth, and that is the truth of Jesus Christ our Savior. The truth, the life and the only way.  Amen.

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