Dont let the sun go down on your anger.


I think many of us can tell stories about bitterness or hatred that truly did ruin relations for years and years. A stupid misunderstanding, a wrong word, or a wrong move. How often do we not listen to remarks like these:

I have not been in contact with my uncle for years, since that horrible Christmas when he said those horrible things.

I have not talked to my daughter for years, as I cannot forget how she disappointed me.

I have not greeted my neighbor since that day when he did not greet me!

The wonderful Swedish Book “A man Called Ove” which has been made into a wonderful movie, which is nominated for an Oscar as best foreign movie – the story about that man called Ove, is the story about a grumpy widower and his lifelong inability to let go, to forgive and to make wrongs right. Ove has staunch principles, strict routines, and a very short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” However, behind this cranky grumpy very un-charming façade there is a story to be told; about his life, his happiness, and his heartbreaks. His best friend from his past, he has not spoken to for 25 years because of a misunderstanding, and Ove has not ( like many of us)  been able to look past the past, to forgive. But then a new neighbor moves in and literally crashes into his life and routines – and the story is a wonderful witness about the power of surprising friendships, magical forgiveness and life changing encounters. Read the book or watch the movie.

Look at the bulletin cover, painted in warm passionate red almost burning color; and then say the words: “Be reconciled to your brother or sister.”

"In your anger, do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” This quote from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:26-27 has through time emerged into our language and our sayings. You might know if with the words of an older translation: Don't let the sun go down on your wrath.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

We might have heard this phrase in our childhood, when our parents tried to teach calm good virtues into our anger and quarrels.

We might have remembered this phrase in our marriage and tried to implement the wisdom of it into our struggles and arguments.

We might have heard ourselves repeat this advice to our children or our grandchildren, as they have been struggling with letting go of anger or resentment.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

It is sound advice to a healthy living! And I am sure Ove’s wife kept on giving this advice to Ove through the years of grumpiness, staunchness, and pride.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Of course, we can’t stop the sun from going down, but we can choose to deal with our anger before nightfall comes and sleepiness sets in.

Unsolved anger becomes dangerous and while we might be sleeping, it eats our sweet dreams and our peace of mind. Anger is an emotion that has so many destructive effects, when it is not handled properly. Anger can turn into grudges, bitterness, hatred and even violence and murder. There is a healthy kind of anger, when you must speak up, when you compelled to act because of injustice, abuse, or neglect. But that kind of anger can be channeled into actions, changes and commitments that might better the world and lives.

Jesus warms us against anger and he reminds us today to find a better way to resolve our conflicts. It is impossible to avoid confrontations and conflicts, but we should work to resist the anger to poison our relationships.

Just listen to this fine little Irish poem:








When anger takes over our lives and our days, and ruins our sleep, - it can lead to irrational actions, violent actions, hurtful words, and bitter confrontations. While the cats of Kilkenny might not have been able to control their animal nature, and they off course had 9 lives to spare! – Jesus reminds us of our human nature and our human capability to let go, to forgive, to reconcile and to make amends.

Don’t let the sun go down on while you are angry….

The sermon on the mount given by Jesus, which we listen to these days of Epiphany, - this sermon contains some of the most radical ethical standards and teachings of Christ: and even if we as good Lutherans know that we are indeed Sinners and Saints, and that we are not saved through our good works, - even then this exceptional sermon on the mount gives us very high standards for our Christian life and being. We are encouraged to do our very best, and not be like the Kilkenny Cats or like humans at worst.

Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Don’t put your head to rest on the pillow, before you have put to rest your arguments, conflicts, or bitterness. Try to let go – forgive – let go of old wrongs and old words. And remember that often we are angry or offended about small issues that can grow to obstacles to high or many to defeat.

I am quite sure that most of you have tried to go to bed angry…. And I am quite sure that most of you did not get a good night sleep!

And then…. There is the truly heartening fact that it could be the last words you said to the other, because as another old saying claim: Nobody know the day before it is over…. And so, it is: nobody knows the night before dawn. We only have one life to live and not nine as the Kilkenny Cats!

Moses said when he came down from his mountain with the tablets of the 10 commandants: I have set before you life and death, blessings, and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him….”

Jesus said when he went up the mountain reflecting on the 10 commandments: “You have heard, but I say now: Reconcile with your brothers and sisters.”

The sermon given on the mount was a radical speech given by a radical teacher, who did ask us not just to keep the law but to be perfect!

·       Who did say that anger was the footstep of murder,

·       that infidelity was already in the first glance or thought.

·       Who said to turn the other cheek when someone slaps your right cheek.

·       Who did ask us not just to love our neighbor, but even our enemies.

Radical teachings, impossible high standards we would say. Jesus held these high standards in front of us to strife for, and make us realize that as we are in fact not perfect or capable of keeping these standards, so are our neighbors, family, and friends.

As we strife and as we try, we also must admit our shortcomings and the shortcomings of others. We need to forgive…. And believe in the power of forgiveness.

The Bible tells us to forgive. Jesus told us to forgive, as he forgave the world…

And when we choose life and choose forgiveness, we deny giving the devil and the evil a foothold to even more damage of hatred or bitterness. As the wise bishop Desmond Tutu says in “ The Book of Forgiveness” : “ When a hurt or harm happens, we can choose to hurt back or to heal. If we choose to retaliate or pay back, the cycle of revenge and harm continues endlessly, but if we choose to forgive, we break the cycle of we can heal, renewing or releasing the relationship.”

Don't let the sun go down on your anger.