ForgivnessSeriesLogo         It is said that perhaps the greatest spiritual discipline along this journey of life is forgiveness.  To forgive and ask for forgiveness from others, oneself, and God are difficult tasks in the best of circumstances.  Moreover, along the rough patches of the road they are seemingly impossible.  And yet forgiveness is what is needed – at least if one yearns to fully embrace the rich possibilities that existence has to offer and which the divine has imbued life!  C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Forgiving and being forgiven are two names for the same thing. The important thing is that a discord has been resolved.”

For Lent we are looking at different aspects of Forgiveness.  Some of the texts we will explore include Luke 15:11-32 (The Prodigal Son/Forgiving Father/Resentful Brother) on February 17; Genesis 25:19-34 & 33:1-11 (Jacob & Esau) on February 24; Genesis 29 & 30:1-24 (Rachel & Leah) on March 3; Genesis 37 & 45 (Joseph & his Brothers) on March 10; 2 Samuel 11-12:23, 14:25-33, & 24:10-25 (David) on March 17; Luke 19:28-40 (Jesus’ Disciples) on March 24 (Palm Sunday); and Luke 24:1-12 (All Of Creation) on Easter Sunday, March 31.

In Matthew’s gospel it is recorded that Peter and Jesus had a conversation specifically about forgiveness.  “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’” (Matt. 18:21-22).  Not only does Jesus set the bar high (seventy-seven times is a figure of speech meaning endlessly) but he challenges us to see how we treat those closest to us: our sisters and brothers in the faith!  Then Jesus goes on to tell a parable that to this day has theologians and preachers scratching their heads at how to live up to such stringent requirements for forgiveness (called The Parable Of The Unforgiving Servant)!

But we know instinctively that there are redemption and freedom in accepting this challenge!  The phrase, “Let Go & Let God,” so flippantly touted, remains, at its heart, a weighty word about forgiveness!  While every human being that is alive has some need to give or receive forgiveness, communities like Franklin Circle Christian Church likely have a particular need to explore forgiveness, for, as a radical community of hospitality we draw folks who have been deeply hurt by other less-tolerant and even abusive communities of faith.  We will need to release the destructive feelings that can build up from such painful experiences or we will be more likely to unthinkingly recreate intolerance by acting out of our pain against those near to us.

My profound hope is that this Lenten theme will help all of us find that release we so much need and for which we long.  I promise to journey with you as honestly and openly as I can about my own need for offering and asking for forgiveness.  I hope you will do the same.

God’s Grace Is Abundant!

Pastor Allen