Posts Tagged forgive

Morning Worship: God’s desire and intuition is to forgive, Hill says  

by MARY LEE TALBOT on   The Chautauqua Daily

“Please forgive the intrusive nature of this sermon. It is not my right to initiate a visit to the attic of your soul, and even to suggest the climb into the attic is rude,” said the Rev. Robert Allan Hill at the 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning worship service in the Amphitheater.

His sermon title was “Forgiven” and the Scripture reading was Luke 7:36-50, the woman with the alabaster jar.

Like Virgil with Dante, guiding the poet through the levels of hell, purgatory and heaven, Hill acted as a guide through the attic of the soul.

“The Gospel intrudes on the soul and truth steadily advances on us,” Hill said.

Hill walked the congregation, figuratively, up to the second floor, turned on the hall light and pulled down the chain that opened the porthole to the attic. Most of us, he said, had not been to the attic lately; there were mothballs and the coverlets of personal history.

In one corner was a uniform from World War I, a pair of bobby socks and an “I like Ike” button, three Beatles albums — Greatest Hits, Abbey Road and the White Album — a Jim Croce tape and photographs. Who are those people in those photographs?

“We will leave the wardrobe for another day because only lions and witches come from wardrobes,” Hill said.

Back in the corner is a small, low box tied with baler twine that no one else knows is here, but “you know, remember, understand and care.”

“Regret” is the word written on top of the box, “a short synonym for hell.”

Hill told the congregation to open the box, untie it and let all that was in it fall out. He called it a “gutsy” thing to do. To have regrets is part of being human. Can you live with being human, of being a little lower than the angels?

“I know because I have boxes in my attic and I make this climb seldom,” he said. “I know about ‘if only,’ not just vicariously.”

Hill said that he asked to journey with the congregation to have the opportunity for healing.

“I truly doubt that anything in your box will surprise me; it is your regret, your attic, and it is different from mine,” Hill said.

He called the box a “box of impeachment brought against us,” but the laws of the soul don’t give way to “lawyerly cunning.” Even if we try to believe that we have never said a cruel word or had a myopic judgement, “the box does not lie, nor does the conscience or life.”

Yet there is a word that must be spoken.

“It is a God word, and only God speaks God words,” he said.

If you don’t remove what is festering, it will cripple you, Hill told the congregation.

“ ‘God forgives you’ is the divine promise and intuition,” he said. “Jesus taught us to pray for it. John Wesley asked his pastors, ‘Do you know God to be a pardoning God?’ ”

This is good news in the face of a box of regrets. It is sometimes hard to hear “God forgives you,” but if you know that God is a pardoning God, then God has known you in Jesus Christ.

Hill said there were several verses that the congregation should remember. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” When Peter asked if he should forgive someone seven times, Jesus told him 70 times seven. Paul wrote that Christians should be kind, tender-hearted, forgiving as God in Christ has forgiven them.

The second piece of good news is that other people are more willing to forgive than one might know or expect, Hill said.

“You may have to ask and say ‘I’m sorry,’ ” he said, “but most people, when confronted with a heartfelt apology, will willingly say, ‘Don’t worry, I forgive you.’ ”

But what might hold people back most from accepting forgiveness is the ability to forgive oneself.

“You have to let yourself off the hook; you are not 101 percent perfect,” Hill said. “Theologian Paul Tillich said that you have to ‘accept your own acceptance.’ ”

He asked the congregation to travel light toward a common hope. When in doubt, throw it out. Forgive yourself, take the box of regrets out to the curb and “let the heavenly garbage truck haul it away for good.”

“I forgive you, you forgive me,” Hill said. “As William Blake wrote in his poem ‘Broken Love’: ‘And throughout all Eternity, I forgive you, you forgive me.’

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Take No Bitterness into the New Year

 

          Many people regard New Year’s Resolutions with the same disdain they attribute to the much maligned fruitcake. I am a proponent of both. For several years now I have made the same New Year’s resolution and I ask God to help me to keep it.  I will take no bitterness into the New Year. Whatever has happened during the past twelve months that tends to sour my disposition, cause me pain and create separation, I resolve to let go. Whatever offenses I have suffered will not be dragged into the New Year. Forgiveness is not as easy as it might sound. Partly it requires developing a thicker skin and realizing that I take far too many things personally. I need to lighten up. This is one of the concepts my friend, Dr. Monty Knight, discusses in his book, Balanced Living; Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Weakness. Continuing with Monty’s philosophy, I don’t have to go to every fight to which I am invited. That is a major concept. Let it go. Tom Newboult, a minister of religious education, once told me that sin is giving more importance to the moment than it is worth. In other words, don’t dwell in the negative. I think Tom hit the nail on the head. What a great concept! Turning a negative into a positive is another methodology for dealing with difficult situations. Since I administered a not-for-profit agency for most of my career, I would often be attacked with, “Well, Mitch, you are just an idealist.” My reply became, “Thank you. I hope so.” The main thing about forgiveness for those of us who are Christian to remember is that we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven. Susan Sparks in her book, Laugh Your Way to Grace, suggests that we rediscover the power of humor. She maintains that we take ourselves far too seriously. We need to repackage some of the comments that cause us pain. Bitterness is a terrible task master. It will ruin your life and suck all the goodness you receive into a dark hole. I recommend a proactive approach. Go on an active campaign to make those around you glad that you are there. Build them up by helping them feel good about themselves. Say something nice. Compliment him or her in a real genuine way. Call the person by name. Offer a specific compliment about a real accomplishment. On the other hand when you receive a compliment acknowledge it graciously with a simple “thank you.” In my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, I discuss the power of words, but I am by no means the first to come to that conclusion. The psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto thee, oh God, my strength and my redeemer.” Dr. Arthur Caliandro gets right to the heart of the matter with a three word solution. “Life is now.” That statement is stunning in its simplicity. Live in the present. Don’t drag past hurts into today. I was part of a vivid demonstration of this principle. We were planning one of the annual John Hamrick Lectures while Dr. John was still living. A potential speaker was being considered. I called the speaker to extend an invitation. He told me that because he and Dr. Hamrick had been involved on opposite sides of a controversy, he would only come if Dr. Hamrick approved. When I told Dr. Hamrick of my conversation he didn’t hesitate. “That was then. This is now.” Wow!

            I make no claim that getting rid of bitterness is an easy task. You and I have experienced great hurts. Unfortunately we have also inflicted great hurts. I know that I am in the process of becoming and that God is not finished with me. Practicing my resolution of taking no bitterness into the New Year has helped me live a more productive, less stressful life. I believe you will experience the same happy results if you give it a try.

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168 Ways To Communicate Better Now 66 – 67 – 68

66   Enlist others.

        You need friends.

        You need help.

        Don’t be a loner.

67. Forgive.

        Don’t hold a grudge.

        Initiate reconciliation

        Move forward.

 68. Get agreement.

         Come to a consensus.

         Be willing to compromise.

        Agree on what you disagree about.

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Forgive – Key 49

            It is impossible to move forward until we forgive ourselves as well as others. Unless we forgive our future is blocked. Refusal to forgive means we have condemned ourselves to a poorer more unhappy life. It means that the past is holding us captive. The hurt and bitterness will continue to grow and fester and will eventually consume us. It will zap all of the air out of the room and leave us exhausted. There is absolutely no payoff for holding on to hurt. Let it go.

            You probably will not be able to forget. Forgetting is different from forgiving. We need to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. We need to learn also from the way we handled or mishandled our responses to those transgressions. These are growth experiences if we are willing to accept ourselves and others for who and what we are. We are human beings who make mistakes, who sometimes get things wrong, who disappoint ourselves and others. We are also human beings who most often get things right, who are generous, loving and kind.

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