True forgiveness is not an action after the fact,
it is an attitude with which you enter each moment
—David Ridge (theartofforgiveness.org)
This week’s scripture readings engage the hardships of human relationships, and the enduring sense that forgiveness and truth are necessary components of honest lives. Joseph and his brothers move toward reconciliation, a psalmist proclaims the goodness of family harmony, Paul widens the circle to include both Jews and Gentiles, as does the woman who argues for her daughter’s healing.
Forgiveness and truth—I am both heartened and heart-ached by the image for I find myself on the heels of the prophetically inspiring and spiritually powerful conference to which you sent me (thank you!!!) —asking for your forgiveness.
There is sooooo much I want to share with you from the workshop leaders and keynote speakers like Brian McLaren, Doug Paggit, Lisa Anderson, Mike Piazza and Cameron Trimble (just to name a few)! There is the very strong affirmation that we are on the right track, the rock star status that you have with these leading edge progressive church leaders as a result of your courage and bold decision, and the ideas gleaned for ways we will make a difference in the faith formation and transformation of people and our community with the kind of extravagant welcome and take-it-to-the-streets model for ministry we intend.
But first, I must ask your forgiveness. You see, another really important message I heard in Atlanta was this—if people of faith don’t do something about the mess we human beings have gotten ourselves into we might as well pack it up and walk away from it all. If we don’t unite and pull together to “make love not war” then what is it all about? If we don’t see it as God’s call, our mission to attend to “peace, poverty and the planet” well what are we doing it anyway?
So, just for today, I ask for your forgiveness—for in the midst of all we have had to ‘Do’ I have not had the time or the courage to focus on the prophetic way we need to “Be.” I do not ask in regards to the time—we all have a finite amount of time, and I work more than I should. But I do repent for my fear. Because in the midst of the impossibly complex Israel-Palestine mess; the horrible genocide happening all over the place; the modern day atrocity of human trafficking; war machines shooting airplanes out of the sky; the unacceptable racism that continues to haunt people of color in our own country (especially black males); the damage we are doing to our exhaustible resources and God’s glorious creation, our planet; and the injustice or our economic systems (to name a few)—I have been silent. I have been overwhelmed by the complexity of it all and afraid I would look like I was not well informed (who could be?). I have failed to dialogue with those with whom I do not share the same opinion for fear I would make an enemy of someone about whom I care. I have privileged unity and being nice over doing the right thing.
Blogger, Sandhya Jha wrote in an article this week in response to the shooting and killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, that we confuse unity with comfort. “my friend’s church broke her heart because unity is almost always unconsciously driven by the dominant culture’s lived experience and very rarely by an awareness that acts of injustice against some communities do not happen in isolation but as part of a pattern. I am tired of the church breaking my family’s heart… I am tired of the church unconsciously and unintentionally choosing unity but really choosing comfort. I am tired of the church unconsciously choosing comfort in the face of tragedy that should be breaking all of our hearts. Every twenty-eight hours a Black man is killed by police in the United States.”
Beloved, I am tired too. I am tired of being so careful that I end up being silent on the very things that Jesus told us to challenge. I am tired of taking the easier way and tired of wondering what the world will be like (or even if there will be a world) for my grandchildren.
So forgive me, God and forgive me church. I want to preach the gospel. I want to be more prophetic, I want to change the world, I want to make a way where there is no way—not just for each of us individually, but for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. I want there to be justice and compassion for all of God’s creation. I want there to be peace for all of God’s creation. I want there to be economic justice for all of God’s creation. And I want black boys and girls to be valued and treated the same as white boys and girls—NOW, in my lifetime.
I want to be a part of the solution and I believe Jesus laid out the way. Maybe if we are lucky, I’ll be asking your forgiveness again soon—for as I step up to the pulpit to prophesy, as I proclaim the gospel from this platform to which you have called me, I will not always do it perfectly or gracefully and will surely piss somebody off! But I would rather ask for forgiveness for bumbling than to remain muted by my fear.
With blessing and prayer and a new found courage,
Rev, Wendy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Concerns: We pray for Paul’s best friend’s daughter Rebecca, who just started to receive chemo therapy; Dick’s friends Ed who struggles