Pastor’s Corner (04/18/19)

 In Pastor's Corner

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing.  –  Luke 23:33-34

Throughout Lent many of us have worked through a study by Marjorie Thompson entitled “Learning Forgiveness: A Lenten Study.” Thompson is an author, teacher, pastor, and retreat leader in the ministry of spiritual formation. She brings the heart of a pastor to this study on this often challenging subject. As we move through Holy Week we are reminded of the importance of forgiveness. Whether we seek forgiveness from another or repent of wrongs done to others, forgiveness is a critical component of the life of faith. Thompson walks us through this process in this 6-session study. If you were unable to be a part of any of the small group this Lent we can provide you with these studies; just contact me or Cheryl in the church office, and we’ll provide them for you. You won’t have the benefit of conversation with others but these studies can be a worthwhile part of any spiritual discipline.

In the first session, Thompson raises the important question; is forgiveness an individual or communal affair? Often we think of this issue as something with which we only struggle as individuals. While this is true, forgiveness is also very much a process for the community. Whether it is in the context of our family or faith community, dealing with repentance and forgiveness is critical for our emotional, physical and spiritual health. It’s often tempting to dismiss or minimize our pain or the pain of others. Or, we may dwell on our pain in such a way that it comes to define us. Thompson guides us through the process of repentance and forgiveness. We are empowered to do this because we are created in God’s image and we have God, through Christ, as our model and guide.

In the second session, Thompson invites us to begin this process with self-examination. She invites us to ponder:

  • Where do we feel embarrassed or guilty about what we have done or left undone? 
  • When have our immediate feelings led us into unkind words or actions?
  • Have we allowed others to influence us toward negative judgments of persons we do not really know?
  • Do we accept hearsay and gossip without checking facts?
  • Where does deceit have a hold on us, and how is it expressed in our lives?

While it is often uncomfortable to acknowledge and admit these feelings, it is critical that we do so. In the third session she invites us to reflect on those we may consider our enemies, those who have wronged or hurt us. Thompson points out: “Each of us secretly harbors despised parts of our own personality, impulses and reactions we are ashamed of: jealousy, greed, rage, self-pity, the need to be right, the desire to win, the exhilaration of feeling superior.” Our journey through Holy Week provides an excellent opportunity to look at ourselves and others with the above awareness. Only when we embrace all aspects of ourselves are we able to truly repent and forgive. Jesus knew this, and with this awareness, modeled this process for us.

In my next Pastor’s Corner I’ll invite us to continue this reflection on repentance and forgiveness. As we move through Holy Week and approach the joy of Easter, may we be empowered to embrace ourselves as we truly are, knowing that God loves us and forgives us. May we find the courage, as individuals and as a faith community, to embark on this journey towards repentance and forgiveness.

In peace and love,
Pastor Karen


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