The Complexity of Forgiveness

(Asking the questions about what the words in our Confession and Forgiveness mean to us, as people of faith. What do they stir in our hearts, and leave that impression that as we ask for forgiveness from the One, who forgives us out of a love we could never comprehend, that we also need to then, extend that love and reconciliation, to those who have wounded us-or do we think that it is foolishness to forgive? Cite the example of the Sikh who forgave the woman who was yelling in his face, because she did not see the mirror reflection of the Creator in his. Cite the example of the Amish, when their community was shattered with violence, that they went to the home of the wife of the shooter, and extended that grace and peace that seemed so foolish, but yet, was a call and command as people of faith, to be foolish in those heart wrenching moments.)

(pause)

This is going to be

One of those sermons,

Where the only thing

That the Good News

Of Jesus Christ

Points us towards,

Reminds us

That no matter what we have done,

We are always

Forgiven,

Even

When we mock Jesus

Upon

The

Cross.

(pause)

Forgiveness

Is one of those tricky concepts in life

Where we have not quite mastered

As humanity.

Forgiveness,

Does not flow as freely

From deep within our very being.

Instead,

It is our pride,

Our honor which crowds that space,

Sacred space deep within

Where the Creator first

Poured life,

And those seeds

Seeds of Grace,

Love,

Mercy

Humility,

That should transfer into our open hands,

As we embrace this collective identity

And truth,

That indeed we come from

One

God.

Isn’t that what we are confessing?

When we gather as people of faith,

And say,

That we are captive to sin,

Which has the potential

To separate us from one another,

And

From

God?

(pause)

“Lord,

If another member of the church

Sins against me,

How often shall I forgive?”

(pause)

Forgiveness,

Is counter-cultural because

When someone breaks a vow,

A Trust

When someone deliberately

Does not honor an agreement

Stand by their word,

The situation,

Must be rectified

And when they refuse to respond,

Out of their selfishness

Unwillingness

Then,

As simple as cutting off a switch

We cut them out of our lives.

Who have you not forgiven?

(pause)

So,

Now that I have officially been installed,

You,

Augustana

Are stuck with me,

And my weirdness

(pause)

A bit of trivia

About your Campus Pastor,

My favorite type of genre,

Is Japanese anime

The Crunchyroll app,

Is on my phone,

I watch this,

More than I do

Whatever “regular” TV is.

For me,

Anime indeed has evolved

From the days of me watching

Robotech and Captain Harlock,

And recently I have been intrigued

By the theological theme,

Of the absence of forgiveness

The subject of revenge,

And the consequence of it all,

Through an anime series called

Hell Girl.

It centers around human emotion

And reaction

To what happens when,

Because we are bullied,

Being perceived weak by others

Whether it is because of our gender,

Or the broken relationships within our family

Or that achieving and cementing our place

At the top of the food chain,

Means pushing others,

Down into the dust,

Our outrage,

Our pride sullied,

Our spirit shattered,

We must have compensation

For our pain,

Our sorrow

These are not simple cases either.

These are rather most horrific situations

that people find themselves in,

To where

The question of forgiveness

At this point,

Is moot.

When these actors have reached their limit,

In the anime,

They log onto this website,

And type the name of the one who has offended them

Hell Girl,

As she is called,

Then appears

She hands them a straw doll with a red string,

Telling them

That if they want revenge,

By pulling the red string,

They send that person,

To hell.

But,

(pause)

There is a price,

Enacting vengeance upon one person,

Means that they too,

Have damned their own soul

To hell,

When their life is over.

(pause)

“Lord,

If another member of the church

Sins against me,

How often shall I forgive?”

(pause)

That seems to be unjust,

And even as they demand of Hell Girl of answers,

She cannot comment

Or pass judgement.

What is this conveying to us?

That the idea of justice is fleeting to us in this life?

That it is not up to us?

That we truly should lean upon the one,

Who forgives

Simply

Because we are God’s children?

That the responsibility

Of making the determination

Of whether we are worthy

Or not

Even those who hurt us,

Belongs

To

God

Alone?

(pause)

How,

Can this be Good News,

To an entire Nation of Peoples,

Whose Ancestors were mocked,

Murdered,

Sacredness of land

Ridiculed

And stolen from them?

How,

Can this be Good News

To Mothers,

Who because simply their children spoke out,

Called out

Government officials for neglecting their duties

To protect,

To secure equality

Whether it was socio-economics

Or political

Or educational

For all people,

And instead,

Those voices of protest

Have gone missing

And silent.

(pause)

How can this be

Good News,

That we must forgive

And not squeeze our reparations

Out of the very hands,

That sometimes attempts,

To deny us

Our humanity

Our rights

Our ability to breathe?

How can it be

Good News,

When you tell

An oppressed people

That they must forgive

Their oppressors

Simply because

The truth

About how we treat one another

Is too unbearable

Is too uncomfortable

And the road into accountability

Is too long,

And too harsh?

(pause)

“Lord,

If another member of the church

Sins against me,

WHY are you telling me,

I have to forgive?”

(pause)

There is this deeper rooted missing piece

Of this question posed to Jesus,

About forgiveness?

Because it’s the norm, right?

We are told we must forgive

So that we are not carrying the weight

Of bitterness within us.

So many Scriptures

About how we are to forgive,

And not to react,

But,

Forgiveness

And

Anger,

Are two different things.

(pause)

Nowhere,

In these words,

Does Jesus say,

We should not express

Or experience

The human emotion

Of anger.

Jesus Himself

Got angry,

When the temple

Was corrupted

And polluted

With economic greed.

And yet,

I wonder,

Did Jesus forgive them,

in their human foolishness?

Does Jesus forgive us,

In our own foolishness?

(pause)

What if,

We were foolish enough

To actually live out Jubliee

As understood here,

In these sacred words?

What if our system of justice

Was not so imbalanced

In that even for those who digress the laws

Instead of enacting punishment,

Devoid of anything that would mirror

Jesus’s calling out to the Creator,

Father forgive them,

For they know not

What they do,

What if

Instead of concentrating on vengeance,

We focused on radical transformation,

Of broken lives,

Both theirs

And ours?

What if,

Instead of our collective humanity,

That we punished and ridiculed

Our fellow sisters, brothers and siblings

In Christ

In Faith

Especially when they cannot rise out of

The systemic issues that bar all people

From living whole and sustainable lives

So they have to rely on,

Loans for education

Loans,

To afford life saving medical procedures

Food stamps,

So that they have the strength,

To continue their life’s journey?

(pause)

What if,

We practiced

The same foolish,

Life saving

Forgiveness,

As Jesus taught us,

Because Forgiveness

Is the Kingdom

Of

God

Thanks Be to God

Child of Creator=Purpose; Guided by Ancestors = Revolution; Empowered by Holy Spirit = Transformation; Liberated through Ancient Spirituality and Ritual =Love.