Pastor’s Paragraph for March 15, 2020

Pastor's Paragraph for March 15, 2020

MARCH 15, 2020

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Over the past several Sundays, our pastors have addressed the theme of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the Lord’s stated response to wounds inflicted intentionally or unintentionally. Our call to forgive is rooted in God’s initiative to forgive. Once forgiven, we are compelled to extend to others what we ourselves have received. Paul writes, as recorded in Ephesians 4:32 and Colossians 3:13, we are to forgive, just as in Christ, God has forgiven us. Forgiveness is an act of the will. I choose to forgive and pray that my emotions experience healing, releasing my wound to Christ. To forgive is to forfeit the right to establish blame. 

I have appreciated the spirit of vulnerability offered through the sermons, reflecting the reality that we all have and will experience hurt. If hurt is not resolved in a God-honoring way, it can quickly evolve into bitterness. Unchecked bitterness can morph into resentment and resentment to full-blown hatred. According to John in his 1st Epistle, it is completely disingenuous to say, “I love God, and hate your brother.”

As recorded in Luke 4, Jesus articulates the good news as “…freedom for the captives….” Embracing unresolved hurt is analogous to residing in a spiritual prison, wherein we cannot set ourselves free. Christ sets us free through the good news of forgiveness. 

In October 2006, a horrific crime was perpetrated against students within the Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse. Eight young girls were shot, execution-style, by a deranged gunman who subsequently took his own life. Five of the girls died. While this horrible act rocked our nation, the Amish community’s response spoke to the soul of our nation. “He (the perpetrator) had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he’s standing before a just God.” A member of the faith community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, explained: “I don’t think there’s anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts.” This is evidence of extravagant forgiveness.

The scripture states that God is love (I John 4:8b). God’s love extends grace. Grace is evidenced through mercy and the practical overflow of mercy is forgiveness. Forgiveness enables the possibility of reconciliation. (Romans 12:18) As I have been forgiven, I choose to forgive. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

StephenGallaher

Rev. Dr. Stephen Gallaher

Associate Teaching Minister