Friday, June 3, 2011

Radical Forgiveness: Another Reason to Be Rather Fond of the Episcopal Church (July 2010)

Same sin, different time.  Or place.  Or circumstance.  But it’s the same sin that we simply can’t shake.  We all have them.  We all wallow in them.  And we may wonder why we keep falling victim to the same temptation.  But at the same time we all may also wonder why God keeps forgiving us. 

God forgive us for two reasons.  First, God deeply loves us, and second, God deeply loves the world.  Karl Menninger said that the major cause of mental illness is one’s inability to forgive one’s self for their shortcomings.  When we wallow in guilt, unforgiveness and shame we can literally drive ourselves crazy. What’s more, while we’re in this state we have little or no energy to consider the plight of others.  We become self-consumed, inwardly focused and unable to do the crucial work of reconciling all things to Christ.

In the Daily Offices of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer we are commended to confess our sins twice a day – much too infrequent for the number of transgressions on my plate – but, nonetheless, a crucial reminder of one of Christ’s most important messages: God does not give up on us, God has not lost hope in us, but urges us to dust ourselves off and get back on the horse.  God takes sin seriously.  God takes forgiveness seriously. 

Sometimes Episcopalians are accused of a cavalier attitude toward sin.  However it may be fairly argued that our love affair with liberty is not rooted in a denial or unfamiliarity with sin nearly as much as it is with a deep awareness of the radical nature of God’s forgiveness.

What are our persistent sins that Christ is calling us, yet again, to lay at the altar?  How might we forgive ourselves as Christ has forgiven us?  Post a strategy that’s worked for you on the home page and help us receive forgiveness and move on to the crucial work loving the world.

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