Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

on forgiveness

The Christian life is not your attempt to be like Jesus, rather it is Jesus being allowed to be himself in you

                               Tom Skinner




I am preaching this week about forgiveness


I know, it is a strange thought for many of you

not that I am preaching about forgiveness

or not that we need forgiveness

or not that we need to offer forgiveness


but that I am preaching

for sadly

like all the rest of the human creatures

who trod this earth


I have trouble practicing what I preach

and frankly


I am not too good at pretending that I do


and when it comes to forgiveness

sometimes I suck


once upon a time I was a shining star

young, exciting, a “Senior” pastor in a “big steeple” church


then I crashed

and I had to leave that church

and left, for many years, the active ministry


I deserved to crash

I was gifted but anxious

and coped with my anxiety poorly, in destructive ways


I needed to deal with my dysfunction

But one person, a person I worked with

aided and abetted my demise


he made assumptions

he said things that were not true

he made it all worse


and for years I could not forgive him

he drove a minivan (in the early days of minivans)

and for years I could not see a minivan without the seed

of resentment and anger blossoming in my heart


I could not forgive

I got there, but it took not years, but decades


I am constantly challenged when it comes to forgiveness


but here I am

trying to write a sermon on forgiveness


yeah, right!


actually I have come up with a few “talking points”


It has occurred to me that if we are going to learn to forgive we have to

Have to start from the point of our own sinfulness

Move to an acknowledgement of our hurt and pain

And thus seek forgiveness before we try to offer forgiveness

(only equals can be reconciled… sinners all)


We also have to develop a profound awareness of the other person’s value

Each person is a precious soul

And we have to seek understanding!  Why does a person believe what they believe?

Why do they act the way they do? How have they been hurt? What are their fears


We have to learn to look for the good in the other, even in the face of powerful evidence to the contrary


And we have to actively live our forgiveness

And then, having done all that, we have to be patient


It occurs to me, as I write all this down

that I am in, way over my head


which means ultimately, it all comes down to this


I can’t forgive



the “Christ in me”, the Spirit, the Sacred Presence that is there

at the center of who I am….




Christ on the cross said “Father, forgive”

That same Christ, in me

Can utter the same words


in me

to me

through me


if I let I let Him be himself in me




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