Posted September 11th, 2016
We don't always understand
Growing up in the Lutheran church we would begin the service with "the Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness." Week after week, it never changed. In fact, I can still recall most of it from memory. The pastor would say to the congregation, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness."
Now, truth be told, as a young child, and even a teenager, I really didn't have any idea what it all meant. Sunday after Sunday, however, I heard those words spoken and they became ingrained in me. In my experience, and maybe yours, too, we talked a lot about forgiveness in church. It was one of those words that frequently made its way into worship, sermons, Sunday School classes and the rest of church life. But talking about forgiveness didn't equate to understanding it or necessarily knowing how to practice it in my daily life.
As a pastor I've come to realize that forgiveness is one of those aspects of discipleship – of being Christians – with which most of us struggle. We don't always understand, we have a hard time comprehending God's forgiveness of all our sins (and the people who have hurt us sin's as well) and we are not always sure where to start when we need to ask for or offer forgiveness in our relationship with others.
So, this fall as we kick off a new year of ministry we will be focusing on forgiveness. I invite you to join us for the sermon series on the topic that begins this weekend and runs through October 8/9. Consider taking part in the forgiveness small group study I'll be leading or pick up the book The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu which will shape both the sermon series and the small group study. I read it this summer while on vacation and it's the best book I've read in quite a while.
Forgiveness isn't just something that those of us who follow Jesus are suppose to talk about. It's something we are called to experience and enact in our daily lives. Come join us as we explore how to do this together.