This Sunday we'll be talking about forgiveness.
I know. I know. In some way or another we talk about forgiveness just about every Sunday...and yet, we still aren't really sure what it means and what it looks like.
So, in times like this we turn to our good friend Frederick Buechner. Buechner is an author, essayist, humorist, and pastor (in alphabetical order) who wrote "Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC" as a kind of shorthand dictionary for just those sorts of theological terms that get us all mixed up.
Here is an excerpt from what he has to say about forgiveness:
"When somebody you've wronged forgives you, you're spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.
When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you're spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.
For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each other's presence."Isn't that a great description! And here is what I like so much about those words: It works the same way with God.
Yes, forgiveness from God gives us the freedom to be at peace in our own skin all the while being glad in God's presence. I love it! And we'll be talking more about it this Sunday at worship. See you there!
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient,because she had received the spies in peace.
And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.