Writing about “Why Forgive?” was hard.
Usually I haven’t had much trouble writing a Lenten reflection. I read the topic or view the picture and the ideas come. Call it inspiration. This time was different. First, I forgot about it until a reminder suddenly dawned on a recent subway ride. (Mindless activities are great for all kinds of inspiration.) I stared at my computer screen for what seemed like days. Ideas surfaced and went nowhere: forgiving is selfish, loving, a duty, healing. Do the words “I forgive you” need to be said; have I ever said them in a meaningful way; did Jesus ever say, “I forgive you,” or only, “your sins are forgiven?” And why, on the cross, did he ask God to forgive his enemies, rather than do so himself?
My stream-of-consciousness writing was to no avail. Nothing I wrote resonated with me.
It wasn’t until midnight of the due date, while washing my face, that it finally registered: writing about forgiving was hard because forgiving is hard. (See what I mean about mindless activities?) That’s why I marveled, as so many did, at the families of those murdered in the Charleston church when they forgave the killer so quickly, or even forgave him at all. It’s easy to forgive the little stuff. But Jesus wants us to forgive the big stuff as well. The deep hurts, the betrayals, the abuse, even the violence. As the TV ads would say, “Wait, there’s more!” He wants us to ask forgiveness for our own sins, especially those we are too ashamed to acknowledge, those we hope God won’t see. And still more!! Jesus wants us to accept forgiveness. In fact, I think when Jesus tells Peter he is to forgive seventy times seven, he also means that we may need to accept forgiveness that many times.
So, why forgive? A treasure of reasons. Forty days to explore them. Jesus as guide. Companions on the journey. Blessings along the way. A deeper connection with God, my faith, friends, at the end. Hard work, worth doing.
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.