August 2015 Newsletter article
August 3, 2015, 9:03 AM

Grace and peace y’all!

We’re old friends now right? I mean, I’ve been here for five Sundays, so it seems like we can be real with one another. I know I haven’t (as of writing this) moved to Newberry, but we aren’t going to let that get in between us are we?

So, this month, I wanted to talk a little bit about forgiveness. It’s always something we need to hear and probably need help practicing. It doesn’t hurt that Jesus talks an awful lot about forgiveness either. One of my favorite Jesus stories is the one where his disciples basically ask, “How many times should we forgive, like seven times?” Jesus’ response is – “How about 77 times.”

Once we realize that we aren’t supposed to read this story literally – Jesus isn’t saying that once you forgive 77 times you’re done and you should never forgive that person again. Far, far from it. In fact, what Jesus is saying is that we should always forgive. Jesus telling his disciples that they should forgive 77 times is such an astronomically (and comically) large number that he was emphasizing that you should always forgive. Especially when people feel like you should stop.

I think when we read that we can be taken a little aback by our Lord. Why? Because what Jesus asks of his disciples and of us is pretty hard to do. Forgiveness isn’t easy and it is a process. Forgiveness is also an interesting act when conducted between people. We like to think that forgiveness means more for the person who has done the wrong. I’m forgiving them so that they know that we are OK and that now they can go on living with a clean slate!

What I think, is that forgiveness is more of a gift to the one who has been wronged against.

A story I read once talked about holding grudges (not living into forgiveness) in this way…

Imagine a small cup of water. It’s not very heavy, it may only have about four or five ounces of water. Pick it up. It’s really light isn’t it? Now, just keep holding it and don’t put your arm down, but stretch that arm out in front of you. Hold it and continue holding it up. If you hold it up for 30 minutes how ‘light’ is it now? How about 5 hours? 30 days? A few years… That ‘light’ cup of water is an incredible burden now isn’t it?

Now, forgiveness is imaging ourselves – after days, weeks or years – of holding on to that cup and putting it down. Just put down the cup. Let it go. Relief! A weight is literally lifted from us in that act of forgiveness.

That’s forgiveness. We still remember that cup and its weight upon us. But, in the act of forgiveness we no longer let that cup guide us, define us, or identify us. In our forgiveness we let go of that which has bound us up in chains and shackles, so that we can be free to be in relationship with those around us. Even free with the one whom we have forgiven!

Of course, this is still a process that is easier said than done. I want to emphasize that forgiveness is a process. It is a journey that we embark on. Only our God is able to ‘forgive and forget’ and God literally says that that is possible in Jeremiah 31: 31-34.

Forgiveness isn’t easy, it doesn’t happen overnight, but we are called by God to forgive. We are called to forgive so that those grudges – those sins – might not define us. That in our act of forgiveness we might know that we are defined by the grace and love of Christ Jesus our Lord. In our act of forgiveness we are able – again – to walk with those among us. Those who have sinned against us, those we have sinned against, and those who get to be with every day.

That’s a pretty cool thing – so, put the cup down and let’s go share that love with others! Amen!

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