Let me suggest that we consider forgiveness as a “way of being:’” being with one another; being with the world; and being with ourselves. Such a way necessarily (1) impacts our ability to enter into the experiences of others (2) empowers us to offer hospitality and receive the “other” gratefully (3) equips us to make space together for authentic relationship, even in previously unfamiliar territory. The poetry of Hafiz may stimulate our imaginations in this regard. As a way of being, forgiveness does not need to reduce the humanity of the other in order to “know” them, but instead offers interactive possibilities that can be unbinding for everyone involved. When we examine the practice of forgiveness in the context of injury (most often compounded injury),...
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you . . . was not “Yes and No”; but in him, it is always “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” – 2 Corinthians 1:19-20
A decade ago, on an early December day, I received a call from the local funeral director. A man from the neighboring town had died after an extended illness. He was a Vietnam veteran who had long suffered symptoms of trauma from his war experience. The family had no pastor: was I available? I was grateful for the opportunity. Meeting with his family, I received a deeper sense of the man, his substance, the impact of his life on those closest to him. What I remember most vividly, however, are his memorial service and the viewing that was held the night before. The latter took place at the funeral home, and was filled with fellow veterans. They were transparent in their woundedness, comforting the family...
“It is in the face-to-face with the impossible–the irreparable and the non-negotiable–that the possibility of forgiveness arises, and just when one feels one has reached the end of the road in making the last step, one finds oneself walking on, making the impossible step, turning aside, turning about, turning toward. One truly forgives only when one squarely faces the unforgivable. The grand gesture of public reconciliation and redemption has a strategic purpose, but it has little to do with forgiveness. For the debt of love knows no limit . . .” –Trinh Minh-ha
Some of the Pharisees near him said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains. –John 9:40-41 As Christians in America, we need to accept God’s forgiveness for the persistent racism of our dominant culture and for our collusion and participation in its destructive and devastating impact on countless human lives and whole generations of people. As a pastor, I believe that the church is particularly situated to take the lead in this process of transformation within our society. Recognizing that God’s for-giveness is the gracious, unilateral power that removes seemingly immovable obstacles, that lifts crushing burdens, that loosens chains...