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Notes from Steve:
August 7, 2022
“A Personal Story of Forgiveness”
(Psalm 32:1-7, Matthew 18:21-35)
Last week someone stole my wallet. Thanks to surveillance cameras, a picture of the person who stole my wallet was made available to the local police department, who then arrested the man. I personally forgave the man, and prayed with him assuring him that God forgave him if he was truly sorry. However, I did not drop the charges, since I learned he stole wallets quite often. My thinking was that I was in a position to protect other people, and that this man needed to deal with the consequences of his actions. Was this the right thing for me to do?
Our scripture readings today deal with the topic of forgiveness; the psalm written by David answers the question “Who is blessed?” David answers with “Blessed is the one whose sin is forgiven.” David goes on to teach (vs. 3) that in order to receive this blessing, a confessing of sin is necessary.
From Matthew, Jesus offers a parable about forgiveness (parable of the unforgiving servant) that teaches that those who receive forgiveness should be inspired to offer forgiveness to others, and that the number of times we offer forgiveness should not be limited.
And yet, being forgiven does not necessarily mean we do not have to deal with consequences of our sin. When we live outside of God’s intention for us, we hurt ourselves and others. When we are forgiven by God and others, there is often work to be done in dealing with the consequences of this hurt.
I suggest that in forgiveness, we find at least these three things happening. First, for the one receiving forgiveness, a great weight is lifted, with strength and grace from God offered when dealing with consequences. Second, a great weight is lifted from the one offering forgiveness. Not forgiving allows the poison of bitterness to build-up; offering forgiveness brings freedom (although forgiving someone can be a process; not something that may happen instantly. Yet, it is important to choose forgiveness and walk that journey.) Finally, being forgiven and offering forgiveness serves as a witness to others, opening a door to the power of God. In accepting and offering forgiveness, we point the way to freedom.
Today with the sacrament of Holy Communion, we are connected to the forgiveness offered to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. May we respond to this gift by offering it to others.