Dear friends in Christ,
A couple of days ago, I happened to glance down while I was walking my dog. There, on the sidewalk, was a message of grace. “I forgive you.”
I don’t know who wrote this or why. Was someone hoping another person would see the message? Was it a written declaration by someone hoping that their intentions to forgive another would be more real if only the words were written out? Was it intended for a passer-by like me? Whatever the reason or the circumstance, there’s something tender about this declaration.
Forgiveness is at the heart of the Gospel. God forgives us our many sins, and we are meant to pass on that forgiveness to those around us. “Forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It’s about mercy and grace, something that’s in short supply in this world of ours. Scorekeeping and gotchas are the currency of our age, so to forgive another is a subversive act.
Forgiving does not make the call for justice vanish. And of course, forgiving is not forgetting. Those tender words of forgiveness on a sidewalk do not imply that something has been forgotten, but rather that it has been forgiven. If someone hurts me, the sting of whatever has been done may not vanish quickly and it may never heal completely. But I have a choice of whether or not to hang on to my anger. Forgiveness is a gift to another, but it also frees us. Being merciful is itself an act of grace that makes real God’s gracious love in and for us. We humans are made to be generous, and when we live that way, we see glimpses of God’s gracious love for us and for all people.
I’m so glad someone wrote those three words on a sidewalk. I’m glad for their sake that one person has forgiven another. And I’m glad for my sake that I was given a small opportunity to contemplate the wonder of God’s great mercy and love for me and my call to be merciful and gracious to others.
I know I have some work to do in my heart. Sometimes forgiving is much easier said than done. Who do you need to forgive?
Today’s Flash Sale: Dust Bunnies in the Basket
Episcopal priest Tim Schenck offers good humor and spiritual direction for the journey through Lent and Easter. With keen observations and a clever wit, Schenck connects the mundane with the divine, from dust bunnies and egg hunts to foot washing and the Easter Vigil. Illustrated by popular cartoonist Jay Sidebotham, Dust Bunnies in the Basket challenges us to go deeper this Lent, to “kick up some dust every now and then, to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world and the people around us.” This book is ideal for personal reflection or seasonal study groups and includes thoughtful questions at the end of each section.
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