What gets in the way of forgiveness???


forgivenessI hope you have joined us the last two Sundays for reflections on Forgiveness, which is one of the most central aspects of our faith life.  We are those who are forgiven by God; and we are meant to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

We’ve looked at a couple of things that can get in the way of forgiveness:  at the excessive sense of guilt and shame that can prevent us from experiencing the forgiveness God offers to us; and at the anger that can make us unwilling to forgive or even to be forgiven.  All of us experience anger.  There’s not a great deal that we can do about that.  But what we do WITH our anger can make all the difference in the world.  It is important that we embrace and rehearse the spiritual practices that help us deal effectively with our anger.

Enough of you have asked me about those practices that I am going to repeat them here.  (The source of these practices is the curriculum for Companions in Christ:  The Way of Forgiveness, a publication of the Upper Room.   I am indebted to the authors, Stephen Bryant and Marjorie Thompson, for identifying these practices):


  • Sit with your anger.  Make a choice not to do any of the things that may come to mind immediately; not to say any of the things that want to fly off your tongue in an angry moment.  Be quiet and assess where the anger is coming from; whether it is proportionate to whatever has just happened; and where you are experiencing it in your body.   “Be still and know.”  (Psalm 46)
  • Express your anger directly to God, without editing, either verbally or in writing.  Use the Psalms as a template for honesty with God.  Psalm 88 can provide a framework for this.  Be honest, even if you are angry AT God.  God already knows.  It won’t be a surprise to Him.
  • Pray for your enemies, as best you can.  Ask God to help you pray for your enemies.  Keep doing it until your heart softens.
  • Turn your “God bless it !*&&%**! Into a “God, bless it.”  Intentionally turn your anger into gratitude for the God who is with you when things happen that make you angry; the God who can help you move through the anger to whatever God has for you.  This ten minutes of life will never come again.

I hope to see you all next week when we will look at receiving God’s forgiveness.  It can be surprisingly challenging.

Don’t forget:  we’re having further conversations each Wednesday night at 7 P.M. through Wednesday Jan 30.

See you here, at the place where we encounter the God who can sustain us through anything, even our own temper fits.  Thank God!


Blessings and Peace

Pastor Deborah

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