Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Forgiven at the cross

A wordle of last Sunday's sermon which was very well received. At least half the congregation (of 20!) told me how powerful it was. For Lent we're focussing on aspects of the cross, rather than preaching from the readings, so this week I preached on the cross as forgiveness. That's a big thing for me as my MA dissertation was about forgiveness in the Criminal Justice system. This was as a result of a placement in a prison when the Chaplaincy was running a restorative justice course. Seeing prisoners face up to their offences, some for the first time in more than 10 years inside was incredibly moving, and convinced me of the power of asking for and receiving forgiveness. It is forgiveness that allows us to move on from past hurts. Ann Lewin, poet and liturgist talks about forgiveness - not as forgetting but as remembering differently. The sting is removed from the memory.
In Jesus' death our sins are forgiven, and we are made whole. It is part of our Christian discipleship to learn to forgive others - and I don;t want to under-state how hard that is -to the point of seeming impossibility. But forgiving another frees us from hurts which might otherwise dominate our present and shape our future. Someone described failing to forgive as being like allowing someone to live rent-free in your head. Forgiveness also offers a new opportunity for the forgiven offender to imagine a new life which is not dictated by the past. This is what Christians believe is offered to them in Jesus' death and resurrection. And this is the good news we're called to share.
I'm always interested in the work of The Forgiveness Project, the reconciliation ministry of Coventry Cathedral, and St Ethelberga's. Any more I should know about?

1 comment:

  1. So important and yet so hard for many people, Sheena. The problem is, as you point out, that too often we confuse forgiving and forgetting. The latter we can't control, the former we can, albeit sometimes with enormous pain and difficulty.