Monday, 15 September 2014

A wonderful time

Last Thursday we celebrated my mum and dad's diamond wedding anniversary. It was truly a diamond moment.
Hannah and Tristan came up. Simon came up. My mum dad and brother martin came up. The day itself saw us opening lots of cards, including one from Elizabeth the second! We celebrated with supper at the Lerwick Hotel and we had a lovely meal.

One for the memory banks for sure


How often should I forgive?
As we come closer to the “unpacking forgiveness” seminar in Sound hall I have naturally been giving the topic a great deal of thought, so it feels daunting to have such a central subject to our belief and faith set before me today.
Forgiveness is huge in every sense of the word, it is as complex as it is essential. We do not have an option it seems to me and yet we have to keep on going for it over and over again, and today Jesus recognises the process may never reach the conclusion.
Forgiveness is central to Gods relationship to human kind. “It is the divine correlative of human sin” (Dictionary)This is clear from the opening verses of the Old Testament where the relationship between us is mapped out, and even the final verses of out New testament emphasise the importance of this binding relationship.
Because the relationship we have to God is bound up with forgiveness the process of forgiveness is at the very heart of what we are as humans. This is so clearly seen in the heart of what we call the Lord’s Prayer… Forgives us as we forgive.
 As Christians we cannot duck the issue, no matter how painful the issue might become. Sure… I would often want to move away from it, dance around the edges sometimes but each time I know there is no real ducking.
I have been reading “The book of forgiveness” by Desmond and Mpho Tutu. I warmly commend this to you all. He describes forgiveness as a fourfold path ( a cycle of forgiveness in fact), which is helpful as it maps out a process and journey over which we travel as forgiveness unfolds. And as the word suggests the cycle may often repeat as the journey goes on.
Here I read the curious phrase “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past”
It is a phrase which needs thought and anguish.
The flipside of the path of forgiveness is simply scary. We either choose one path or the other… but the scary part is the  other cycle is the cycle of revenge.
Somehow we trick ourselves into thinking that by following this route we can change what has been done.  We cannot.!
Desmond Tutu, among many others, emphasise that Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Indeed the cycle of forgiveness demands that the story be told, and heard.
The path of forgives is tough and bumpy and it involves facing many things we try to avoid, anger bitterness, resentment, revenge, hurt, pain and loss.
We pray to God to forgive us as we also forgive and we ask how many times should we do this. I did once hear a member of one of my congregations talking to another member and they were struggling with a sense of injustice that had been done to them… the trouble was it was not the first time.. she knew the issue was not easy, she knew the other person quite well, and with natural desperation I heard her say “but there is a limit….”
A phrase which even if we do not say we certainly feel.
Peter felt there was a limit and he was willing to go all the way… as many as seven times? Once again Peter is put in his place!
One thing for certain is that there is nothing magical about forgiveness. It is healing, it is wholeness, it is healthy, it is goodness… but it is not magic. It is not instant or easy, it is not quick and certainly not cheap.
We all need it from God and others, but boy it is difficult to work it, to play our own part in it.
Forgive us God,,, as we forgive others!
Sometimes the words stick I my throat I do not know about you?
Matthew paints his usual horrible scenario for the one who fails to forgive.
No matter what happened Reeva Steemkamp was killed by Oscar Pistorius. It has been a long a convoluted case. June Steemkamp said a number of weeks ago that she had forgiven Oscar for doing this.
She did not say, it didn’t matter, she did not say it did not hurt, she did not say I want Oscar to be set free from jail, or for the trial to find him Not Guilty of anything. She did not say I do not want justice to be done.
She did say that she could not live herself without forgiveness, and that she did not want to be trapped in the past, which could not be undone. She did recognise that for her own life forgiveness was the only way forward.
What an example to us who think on these things.

Forgive us Lord, as we forgive….. give us the strength and courage to walk the path of forgiveness even if I have the ground seventy times seven times.