The Sunrise Principle

September 11, 2005

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church


Matthew 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

    21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

    22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

    23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

    26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

    28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

    29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

    30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

    32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

    35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."


Exodus 15:1b-11; 20-21

The Song of Moses and Miriam




Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! I’d like to talk with you this morning about the words of Jesus. In the book of Revelation, we hear these words:


“The risen Christ said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Those are the words of our Lord. Let’s look at the words and think about them.


Behold—what does that mean? It means ‘look around.’ Check it out. Observe.


Observe what? “I”, says the Lord Jesus Christ, co-creator of the entire world, the redeemer of the present, the guardian of the future, “I make all things –everything—new.” My prayer is that you would take those words of Jesus with you into the week. What brilliant, unspeakably brilliant words these are, and what promise they hold, for you and for me! “Behold, I make all things new,” says the Lord Jesus Christ. The old things have passed away. The broken things are no longer what matters. What matters is Jesus, and that He makes things new for us.


One of the most wonderful things I got to do during the summer was to get up somewhat early and watch the sunrise over the ocean. How many of you have had the opportunity to do that? What a remarkable sight! The sun rose this summer somewhere between 6:05 and 6:25. I’d get up and walk to the shore and watch this absolutely remarkable moment of creation. The night had been dark, sometimes stormy. But I’d go out and watch this miracle. It started out as a slim beam of light floating on top of the water and cascading out to a dark blue sky. The sun would slowly rise. I remember one particular morning when the clouds were clustered here and there in the sky. As the sun rose, the most brilliant colors splashed out over them – gold and orange and blue and aqua – and the colors would change with lustrous majesty as the sun rose. It was like music that would start with the sparkle of strings and then grow with the music of a mighty organ as the sun rose over the horizon. This one particular morning I looked behind me, and there was a rainbow, cascading across the sky.


God, the ultimate artist, is giving us a gift in every sunrise. In this beauty, it’s as if He’s saying to us, “How do you like it?” And our response is, “Oh, Lord, we like it right well.”


What a powerful message He brings to us everyday. Could it be that He knew that in this life that we live (as Jesus says, “in this life you have tribulation”) we need a little reminder of His mercy and grace and plan. So every day, He tucks in this miracle called the sunrise to say, “I haven’t given up on you. I can take all your sorrows and all your brokenness and all your failures and all your mistakes and all your sins, Anthony or whatever your name may be, and pick them all up and splash them into the sunrise.” There’s a new day; there’s a new hope; there’s promise.


Sometimes, we are so taken with other metaphors of nature that we tend to identify with them, don’t we – the autumn, the falling of the beautiful summer leaves, the shortening of the day, the lengthening of the night, the lengthening of the shadows? But then, friends, every day we can guarantee each other this: the sun will come up in the morning, and there is promise. There is new hope.


Won’t you take that to heart? I have a feeling there’s someone today who especially needs to hear that message, that no matter what the brokenness may have been, God has a new day in store for you.


What is the Sunrise Principle? The Sunrise Principle is simply this: Every day is a new beginning. Every day is a new beginning. As you go into the week, as you think about this morning, won’t you remember that Sunrise Principle? Every day is a new beginning.


In our Gospel reading this morning, it is clear that Jesus was so emphatic about our knowing this principle, about our knowing that this is not just a good thing, this is an important thing. Jesus told the story of a servant who owed his master a million dollars. A million dollars! And he was going to throw him into prison, take all he had as a fractional payment. But the master changed his mind. Instead, he forgave him. He said, “Go. Live abundantly. Live forgiven.” What greater gift could that servant have been given?


The saddest part of this whole story is that the servant never realized the Sunrise Principle for himself. And he went out and found a person who owed him $25 and he said, “Pay me.” It’s a violent image, the servant throttling the man who was in his debt. The man said, “I can’t do it. I don’t have the money.” So the first servant had him thrown into jail until he could pay it. How is he going to be able to pay his debt if he’s in jail?


And when the master heard, the master said to him, “Big mistake. Bad judgment.” Woe unto that servant. The saddest part of the story is that the servant never realized how fortunate he was. He never realized the Sunrise Principle for himself.


Jesus says to us, “Realize that you are blessed beyond measure. You are dealt with bounteously and generously. I have wiped the slate clean, so do the same for others.”


Do your relationships need the Sunrise Principle? Do you need to open up the avenues of communication? Do you need to say “I love you” a little bit more? Do you need to understand a bit more? Do you need to accept, as you are accepted? I don’t know what it is, but there is a sun coming up in the morning for you. Let it come up for others in your life. And remember that God is on your side.


You know, we heard the story about the Egyptians in the Old Testament today. Was anyone thinking of Charlton Heston in ‘The Ten Commandments’? Did you see that movie? That was a great old movie. But what it can mean for us is that you are like the nation of Israel, and you are heading into a new morning, a new day. Maybe you’re being chased and hounded by your symbolic Egyptians, those things that would hold you back and hold you down, that would tell you that you can’t do something, that you aren’t worthy to succeed. God is pushing that away, so that you can come to the Promised Land that He has for you.


Oh, my dear friends, won’t you take it to heart? There’s a sun coming up in the morning. God tucks that message into every day. The Sunrise Principle is yours. Every day is a new beginning.


God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

© 2005 Anthony J. Godlefski