Paid in Full
by Rev. Randy Quinn
(Begin sermon prior to Reading Text)
You may have heard
the story of the woman who spent the first day after her divorce sadly
packing her belongings into boxes, crates and suitcases.
On the second day, she had the movers come and collect her things.
On the third day,
she sat down on the floor in the dining room by candlelight, put on
some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of
caviar, and a bottle of Chardonnay. When she had finished, she went
into each and every room and deposited a few half-eaten shrimp and
caviar into the hollow of the curtain rods. She replaced the end caps
on the curtain rods, cleaned up the kitchen, and left.
When the ex-husband returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss
for the first few days.
Then slowly, the
house began to smell. They tried everything: cleaning, mopping, and
airing the place out. Vents were checked for dead rodents, and carpets
were steam cleaned. Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators
were brought in to set off gas canisters, during which time they had
to move out for a few days; and they even paid to replace the
expensive wool carpeting.
coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid
quit. Finally, they couldn’t take the stench any longer and decided to
A month later, even
though they had cut their price in half, they couldn’t find a buyer
for their stinky house. Word got out, and eventually, the local
Realtors refused to return their calls. Finally, they had to borrow a
huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.
The ex-wife called
the man, and asked how things were going. He told her they were
selling the house but didn’t tell her the real reason. She listened
politely, and said she missed her old home terribly, and would be
willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the
Thinking his ex-wife
had no idea about the smell, he agreed on a price that was about 1/10th
of what the house had been worth, but only if she were to sign the
papers that very day. She agreed, and within the hour his lawyers
delivered the paperwork for her to sign.
A week later, the
man and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving
company pack everything to take to their new home – including the
Most of us enjoy
hearing a story like that – especially if we’ve been wronged by
someone. We like to hear about people “getting even.”
however, points to an underlying reality – the reality that we really
are vengeful. We don’t want to admit it, perhaps, but we prefer to see
people get even rather than to forgive.
And when Jesus
invites us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us,” we fully understand the sentiment of the man who
always pretended to forget the words of the Lord’s Prayer – because he
didn’t want to forgive his former partner for swindling him out of his
Rare, in our
society, is the story of forgiveness. The news media was astounded at
the way the Amish community in Pennsylvania forgave the man who killed
their children two years ago, in part because the story is so rare.
Jesus, however, envisions a church where that is not rare, but the
norm. He tells a parable that invites us to explore our own
willingness to forgive. He uses a few words that we may not fully
comprehend, so let me do some “defining” before I read our text
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