Pastoral Reflections- Rev. Barb Muhs, pastor, Salem Church of Lincoln Lincoln, Iowa
September 20, 2013
I remember thinking when I was young that I couldn’t wait for school to be out. As I grew older and wiser I began to think school wasn’t so bad, and yes, I began to realize that I could become a professional student. Having said that, I like many people have returned to a classroom this fall. At the least my commitment is two years, at the most three. Driving to DesMoines from Lincoln, traffic, deer, speed etc... all enter my mind, not to mention anxiety of being out of the classroom for 15 years. Topic of the day: Forgiveness. WOW! How much is there to learn about forgiveness that hasn’t already been taught in seminary? PLENTY. When we think of forgiveness in the biblical context, most of us recall Jesus’ words,Where Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother. Jesus replies, “ No, not seven times, but seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) I do not think that any of us keep a log on how many times we have forgiven others or how many times people have forgiven us. What I do know is that for those of us in the church forgiveness is something we know we should do and yet at times it is the hardest action to embrace with integrity. God from the beginning of scripture has offered forgiveness starting with Adam and Eve. Throughout the Old Testament we can see and read how God is continuously forgiving. Israel and her people are asking forgiveness as they search during the forty years. Prophets are encouraging people to not give up hope and to try again in their lives to seek the God of compassion, strength, the God of hope for their lives. With great determination GOd’s people continue to move forward, experiencing God’s forgiveness each step of the way. Throughout the New Testament we read over and over again how people are questioning Jesus about this God he speaks of. Disciples question, common folk question and still Jesus continues to preach about forgiveness as he lives his life forgiving where ever he goes even to his death on the cross. His last words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Forgiveness, one of life’s hardest actions to embrace. I told our young people during Children’s Time that I was sorry. THey looked at me and said, “For what?” Well, let me think. Perhaps because I did not listen to you as carefully as I should have, or did I forget to say thank you for some kind deed that you did? I couldn’t even begin to count the times that I have unintentionally hurt someone and not asked for forgiveness. The words, “I’m sorry” seem to be a way that we ask for forgiveness, then there are the direct words, “Forgive me” that are a little harder to say. No matter how we ask for forgiveness there is a spiritual release that comes to us in our soul, knowing that we have made an attempt to follow the actions of Jesus. When we turn the page and forgive others who have wronged us, we should also recognize that our release of another’s guilt or actions are a way of helping them right their mind and souls for the kingdom of God. Jesus taught us forgiveness in his life, on the cross, from the cross. Forgiveness one of the greatest gifts we have been given not to keep to ourselves, rather to share, not seven times but seven times seventy.
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