Friday of Lent 1, March 15, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
Yesterday, we considered how we can begin the movement of love that is called forgiving others by starting with the first two sentences of this section of the litany:
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven. Have mercy on us, Lord.
Today, we will begin at the end of this section of the litany: we are called to forgive others because we have been forgiven. Sometimes we withhold forgiveness because we have forgotten the experience of healing that comes from being forgiven.
God models for us what forgiveness looks like. “When our disobedience took us far from you, you did not abandon us to the power of sin and death. In your mercy you came to our help, so that in seeking you, we might find you.” (Eucharistic Prayer D, BCP, 373)
Forgiving others can begin from the position of recognizing that while the other person (or community or institution) does not deserve to be forgiven, yet forgiving is the way of love. We forgive others because we know the healing that comes from having been forgiven. In this way of working toward forgiving, we can start with reflecting upon how God has forgiven us. Have you ever confessed to God during the corporate confession of sin and felt a sense of pardon when the priest pronounced the absolution of sin? Or consider a time when you needed to be forgiven by a family member or a friend and that person offered you forgiveness. How did you feel in that moment? A grudge is a heavy burden to carry.
Do you know someone that you need to forgive? Is there some past hurt you need to set down?
Maybe the hurt feels too deep to forgive just yet … or maybe you have been trying to forgive someone for a while. Forgiveness is a process. Moving toward forgiving begins by acknowledging that you haven’t completely forgiven yet. God’s mercy endures forever and is available right now to us as we seek to begin the journey toward forgiving. Why not take the first step of talking to God about those who you haven’t been able to forgive yet?
Whom do we as a worshiping community, a diocese, or as a denomination need to forgive?
What old wounds, divisions, or schisms are holding us back from being the people God is calling us to be?
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Ash Wednesday)