“We have the capacity to live in communion with our Creator and with one another because we are wonderful works of God. And every time we see that we have lived in a way fitting to this purpose, we can celebrate grace.” Marjorie J. Thompson, Forgiveness: A Lenten Study
Personally, the hardest leg on my journey to forgiveness is a desire for retribution. Not only do I believe I am a consummate judge of ethics, I believe my neighbor’s values should reflect my own. If our values differ, and, indeed, if my neighbor’s values become the social norm, I confess I pine for retribution. “Your backward ideas placed us in this precarious position, now admit your guilt and apologize for your questionable judgment.” Do I display a lack of humility when confronted with opposing belief systems? Should my societal norms be acceptable for all Christians? Am I right to reject, in our evolved civilization, that my life choices should be judged by the rigid and unenlightened expectations of dead ancestors?
Countless times in my day, bustling along our NYC streets, I hear and offer apologies: “Pardon me; excuse me, and sorry.” These small gestures reflect genuine consideration for our neighbors. Yet, once again, we grapple with the grand question, “Can Christianity exist alongside anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and genocide?” Christ Jesus practiced the ultimate act of forgiveness, giving his life while forgiving the citizens who condemned him. “Forgive them father for they know not what they do.” Every day, Christians are called to make decisions that affect our world.
During this Lenten season, I pray that “all matter of things will be well.” I pray that my neighbor will forgive me for pursuing Shylock’s “pound of flesh.” I pray that Christians will plant their feet in equality, respect for human dignity, and, in the freedom to follow one’s unique path—until we are enfolded into God’s loving arms. Because God’s love for me is boundless. I am forgiven.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.