Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Forgiveness ...

I am reflecting this week on this practice of forgiveness, and thinking deeply about this miracle. About the miracle of setting aside one's supposed "right" to retribution and revenge in order to forgive others. John the Baptist was offering the assurance of forgiveness out there at the Jordan - far away from the Temple of the Lord. And people flocked to hear the words of forgiveness. Jesus is remembered as saying, "Father Forgive Them," from the cross; and Jesus set up the paragon, the paradigm, the model of forgiveness.

On Good Friday of last year, I offered these words as I reflected upon Jesus' words from the cross ... it occurs to me that Jesus' ministry began with being baptized "for the forgiveness of sins" and the other bookend to this work is on the cross when he offered forgiveness even for those who brutally crucified him. Quite an incredible model for us.

Peter Carey
Good Friday Meditation
7 Last Words: Father Forgive Them
6 April 2007

“Father Forgive them, they know not what they do.”

It sounds like a miracle.
Forgiveness is there for us, whether we engage it or not.
Forgiveness is there, are we able to turn and inhabit it?
Jesus looks down from the cross and sees us below.
We stumble around, not knowing what we’re doing.
Jesus sees us, and despite ourselves, he forgives us.
Without any action on our part, he forgives us.
The forgiveness is there for us, are we ready to inhabit it?
Are we ready to turn away from our sin, and turn to God?
Traditionally, we might confess, be contrite, repent, and seek unity
We must remember those things which we have done
Those things we ought to have done.
We remember why we need forgiveness.

We remember the ways our society offers us privilege on the backs of others.
We remember that we keep putting others on the cross, and then divide their possessions.
We remember those systems from which we benefit.
Systems of oppression
Systems of slavery
Systems of dehumanization
Systems of the degradation of the environment
We remember those systems of sin and diminution that we regret.
And Jesus forgives us, for we know not what we are doing
Can we believe in Jesus’s forgiveness for us?
It sounds like a miracle.
How might we live as we embody this forgiveness?
What if we are really forgiven, what if we are freed from the ties that bind us?
What if we can let go of the despicable things which we have done?
Well…we are forgiven.
We know not what we are doing…

Being forgiven, really believing it, can we live forgiven lives?
Can we step away from the ways of fear and hatred?
It sounds like a miracle.
Once forgiven, we have the opportunity to allow God to transform us.
We have the opportunity to help to transform the world.
We have an opportunity to take on the oppressive systems of the world.
We have the opportunity to take on the genocide of Darfur.
We have the opportunity to put an end to the wars in our cities.
We have the opportunity to put an end to the war in Iraq.
We have the opportunity to transform our communities into authentic community.
God give us the courage to “know what we’re doing…”?
God give us the courage to engage our hearts, souls and minds…
We have the opportunity to remember Jesus’ forgiveness for us
However, this is not a cheap forgiveness
This is not cheap grace.
Jesus forgives us, but also beckons us to turn around.
Jesus beckons us to repent and turn to God.
He beckons us to turn to Him, and turn to those suffering in the world.
Jesus empowers us to come to those places of suffering
We are called to refuse to crucify him all over again.
We are called to refuse to crucify others.
We are forgiven for what we have done, but we are expected to do better.
We are forgiven, and we can be free of our sin, we can turn from our old ways.
We can turn to new ways that move us from the darkened underbrush
We can turn to a broadened perspective that carries us through the dense forest,
Through the maples and oaks, into the groves of pines, to the place where we can see the summit
We can enter that place where we can see from a broad perspective
Where we can see the world as God sees it, we can see that not only are we forgiven
But that we are called to forgive others…We are forgiven, and we can forgive others.
And we are empowered by the Spirit to not only see the world and its suffering, but to respond to it.
To offer ourselves to the world.
To transform the tears of suffering into shouts of joy.
It sounds like a miracle.

But, through God, all things are possible.
“Father Forgive us, we know not what we do.”
And he does.
It sounds like a miracle.

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