Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven…
Murphy’s Law includes the ancillary law: “Mistakes have been made—people will be blamed.” We are a people whose pastime is victimization and blaming. I find myself coming back to the issue of forgiveness because while it is clearly unfashionable in our culture, the lack of forgiveness is making us sicker and sicker, and besides, forgiveness is at the heart of our Christian faith. Jesus knew and taught that there is a fundamental connection with forgiveness and our openness to God’s Spirit. Reject forgiveness and we create a barrier around our hearts that not even God’s spirit can penetrate.
Gordon Livingston suggests one definition of forgiveness is “giving up a grievance to which you are entitled. Forgiveness is an act of letting go, of relinquishment. It is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. By forgiving, we free ourselves from the burden of bitterness.” (from And Never Stop Dancing)
This is the case Bishop Desmond Tutu makes for the practice of forgiveness:
Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We are bound with chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped. Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness; that person will be our jailor. When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings. We become our own liberators. We don’t forgive to help the other person. We don’t forgive for others. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness, in other words, is the best form of self-interest. This is true both spiritually and scientifically.
This Sunday we’ll go through the four critical steps Tutu lays out to real healing:
- Admitting the wrong and acknowledging the harm.
- Telling one’s story and witnessing the anguish.
- Asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness.
- Renewing or releasing the relationship.
Paul Carver is going to share the story of his family blowing up and him having to choose between a life living as a victim, or forgiveness opening the door of living his life. He is an example of Rohr’s two maxims:
- If we do not find some way to transform our pain, I can tell you with 100% certitude we will transmit it to those around us.
- But before the truth “sets you free,” it tends to make you miserable.
Here’s what I have on my desk…
SANTA ROSA HEALING GROUP—Do you know someone that you would like to invite to a healing group in Santa Rosa? We will be studying the 12-Steps based on the book, “A Hunger for Healing”. Starting Tuesday, February 7th, the meetings will be every Tuesday night at 6:00PM at 819 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa. For more information, please call Eric Van Cleave at 707-479-0701.
- ANDREW WOMEN’S FELLOWSHIP is holding their annual Valentine’s Luncheon on Wednesday, February 8th at 11:00AM in the St. Andrew Conference Room. All St. Andrew women are invited to come and share your own special potluck creations! Tableware and drinks will be provided. Please RSVP to ‘Nita Summers 707-933-9912 / email@example.com or Mary Kaufmann 707-343-1410 / firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you will join us!
RISING STRONG—THE RECKONING. THE RUMBLE. THE REVOLUTION. Brené Brown’s Daring Way™ challenged us to get into the arena of life—to live vulnerably and with courage, courage to live “with our whole heart. “She is absolutely right, there is no connection without vulnerability, and it takes incredible courage to “show up…be seen…live brave”. But what happens when it’s not the “triumph of high achievement” we experience, but gut wrenching failure? It’s one thing to talk about daring greatly and failing, it’s something very different to find ourselves face down in the dirt floor of the arena, having failed miserably. Whether it’s our personal, family, community, or work lives, failure is inevitable, and it hurts so bad some of us never dare to really live again. Failure and breakdowns don’t have to end that way. God can use them to do the best work in us.
Brené Brown’s latest book and the video-course she created is all about the process of getting knocked down by life and circumstances, yet rising stronger than we were before. Brown discovered it is a spiritual process with three identifiable stages she calls: The reckoning…the rumble…the revolution. If you found her Daring Way™ workshop helpful, I can guarantee this not only builds on where we left off there but takes it to a whole new level of learning to live our lives as God created us to live.
Pastor Rich will be facilitating a Rising Strong Event, on FRIDAY, MARCH 3RD from 6:00-9:00PM and SATURDAY, MARCH 4TH from 8:30PM—3:30PM, IN THE ST. ANDREW FELLOWSHIP HALL. Tickets are available for purchase starting THIS SUNDAY.