Monday, October 13, 2014

Sermon: October 12

You get an invitation. Maybe it’s big and beautiful, like an invitation to a wedding. Maybe it’s a simple online evite to a friend’s birthday party. You check your calendar. You write it down and you RSVP.

But what if the invitation was for something much, much bigger? After his encounters with those in authority in Jerusalem, Jesus tells another parable about the Kingdom of Heaven.

A King is throwing a Wedding banquet for his son. It is a great big party and he sends slaves out to gather the invited guests. But they do not come. Again slaves are sent, but these invited guests made light of the invitation; they ignored it, went back to work, beat some slaves, killed others. The King is enraged and destroys the city that houses the unworthy guests.

And then he sends his slaves to invite everyone they meet, the good and the bad! And the banquet hall is filled. During the banquet, the King notices someone without the proper attire. How did you get in here? The man was speechless. So the King had him thrown out.

Jesus ends by saying, for many are called, but few are chosen. Or maybe another way of saying that, many are called, but few follow through…

Jesus tells this parable after using two other parables against the powers that be that did not listen to John the Baptist, that refuse to listen to Jesus. In this parable from Matthew, Jesus confronts them once again, noting they had been called to the banquet but refused. When the honored guests fail to live into the gift from God, God sends out the prophets to gather everyone and the invitation is extended to everyone to come to the bountiful banquet. Those that heard these parables in Jesus day and in the days when it was retold to the community of Matthew’s gospel, would have heard it through their own filters, that God was calling them to the banquet, for those in authority, the powerful, refused to go.

Now, I want us to hear the parable, not as if we are hearing Jesus talk about it way back when to someone else. What if Jesus gave his parable today? What if he was looking at us today? This version of the parable was written by Clarence Jordan in Georgia in the 1960s…
Jesus continued the conversation by speaking to them with Comparisons. “The God Movement is like a governor who gave a big dinner for his party chairman. He told his secretaries to invite the prominent dignitaries, but they refused to accept. So he told his secretaries to try again. ‘Tell them,’ he said: ‘”The banquet is all arranged - the steer has been butchered and the hogs barbecued. Y’all come on to the dinner.” ‘But they couldn’t have cared less. One left to go out to his farm; another went to his store, The rest of them taunted and insulted the secretaries. At that, the governor had a duck fit, and ordered the names of the scoundrels to be struck from the list of his friends. Then he said to his secretaries, ‘Plans for the banquet are all made, but the people I invited aren’t fit to come. So go to the various precincts, and whoever you find there, invite them to the banquet.’ Well, they went to the precincts and brought in everybody they could find, good and bad. The banquet hall was filled with guests, and the governor went in to greet them, There he saw a guy sitting at the table who looked and smelled like he had just come in from his farm. The governor said to him, ‘Hey, buddy, how did you get in here, looking and smelling like that?’ He just clammed up. Then the governor said to the waiters. ‘Tie the bum up and throw him in the back alley.’ Outside there’ll be yelling and screaming, for the big ones were invited but the little ones got in.” (Cotton Patch Gospel: Matthew 22)
Notice in the parable, who finally gets invited? Everyone they could find; the good and the bad. It went from the chosen few to the many! The little ones got in! The banquet is set, the invitation has come; are we too busy, are we the ones who don’t get it or are we the ones who follow through and come as invited?
Fifteen years ago, Jane Knuth, a math teacher and mom, began volunteering at a thrift shop in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She approached the work with a hard-charging determination to "fix the world" - but over the years, the experience changed her. The poor and desperate she has been able to help have deepened her own faith and brought her to a new understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Jane Knuth has collected stories of her experiences in a book Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25c at a Time. Thrift Store Saints includes some two dozen stories about the volunteers and patrons of the St. Vincent's thrift shop. The Kalamazoo thrift store sells everything from furniture and clothing to basic household items, but also offers financial assistance, referral services - and prayerful and emotional support - to the needy and the lost.

Rather than viewing society's poor as problems to be solved, Jane and her colleagues see them each in a completely different light: as saints who can lead us straight to the heart of Christ. Jane Knuth writes:

"From all appearances, it looks as if we are running a thrift store at St. Vincent de Paul. At our meetings we frequently get into discussions about how to better run the store. Should we raise our prices? Give away less? Not accept so many donations? Lock our dumpster? Move to a better retail location? All these issues would come up with any resale shop. Eventually, it occurs to us that our purpose is not to run the most profitable, shrewd, efficient, riff-raff-free store in town. Our purpose is to help the poor and to change our way of thinking and being. It only looks as though we run a store. The store is just our cover...

"I still keep looking for the 'deserving poor' - the innocent ones who are blatant victims of injustice and hard luck. I want to help them and no one else. From what I can see, apart from children, most poor people's situations seem to stem from a mixture of uncontrollable circumstances, luck, and their own decisions. Same as my own situation. Do I deserve everything I have? Am I somehow more moral, smarter, or a harder worker than poor people? Sometimes I am, most times I'm not. Do poor people deserve their daily struggle for existence? Are they immoral, stupid, and lazy? Sometimes they are, most times they aren't."
No one deserves the banquet, but both the good and the bad are invited to attend and to live into that gift. In today's Gospel, Jesus articulates the vision of the Kingdom: a banquet at which all are respected and honored for who they are and the goodness they bring with them; a banquet that might be found in the classroom, the clinic, the playground, the home or a thrift store.

If we are to be truly faithful to the parable, the compassion of God must transform our heart's perspective, enabling us to see beyond stereotypes, economic distinctions, religion or class, to recognize that the hall is filled with children of God, worthy of respect, love and compassion. We must be willing both to give joyfully what we have and to accept humbly what others bring to the banquet, to live that gift in our lives.
As St. Paul put it in his letter: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”
The invitation is there and you name is on it – will you open it & accept it? Will you come to the banquet and live into that gift that is yours by grace? Amen.

Sermon - St Francis

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”
Martin Luther penned those words some 500 years ago. 400 years before Martin Luther, a man named Giovanni took this understanding outside and saw the hand of God everywhere in creation.

He was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone around 1181. Known as Francesco, as he was nicknamed by his father, was born into a wealthy Italian family, he was a wild youth and even had a brief & unsuccessful career as a soldier, as he tried to find his way in the world. But one day, in a dilapidated Church, Francis had a conversion experience –
“Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."
When he heard the call to rebuild the church in San Damiano, it was as if a great weight was lifted from his shoulders. He gave up the wealth he grew up with, the privileges he had, and the expectations that went along with it. He gave it all up, to live a very simple life. One his father would never understand and he devoted his life to God. He led a simple life –fixing the Church wherever he went – caring for those in need, preaching the Gospel wherever he went.

Francis' deep love of God overflowed into love for all God's creation—expressed not only in his tender care of lepers, in his unsuccessful attempt to negotiate peace between Muslims and Christians during the fifth Crusade, & in his care of a town agitated by a wolf but also in his prayers of thanksgiving for creation, his sermons preached to animals, & his insistence that all creatures are brothers & sisters under God.

He understood that we have relationships within creation. As his biographer put it (on) p. 13 & 14 of the book Earth Friendly.

Those relationships were not to be exploited; they were not to be used for personal gain and then tossed aside. He thought wildflowers as important as the crops of the garden. Such understanding of balance, of connection to creation, is how farmers used to understand the land. Francis shows us that such relationships need to be cherished. As a contemporary author puts it, p. 15 & 16 of Earth Friendly.

He saw creation as a gift and through such openness to creation he called the sun, brother, the moon, sister; and he even called death, sister, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Francis wrote his Canticle of the Sun or Canticle of the Creatures after an illness in San Damiano. It identifies the elements of creation as sisters and brothers to us, and calls upon creation to join us as we praise God.

(Perhaps the best-known version in English is the hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King" which contains a paraphrase of Saint Francis' song by William H. Draper (1855–1933). Draper set the words to the 17th-century German hymn tune "Lasst Uns Erfreuen", for use at a children's choir festival some time between 1899 and 1919. (from Wikipedia))

His Canticle is remarkable for it sees the inherent harmony in God’s creation; that creation was made to work together, as brother and sister to one another, and to all of us who inhabit the earth. But as St. Francis always did, he returns to look at his brothers and sisters of earth.

“We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon, for love of You bear sickness and trial. Blessed are those who endure in peace, by You Most High, they will be crowned.” He upholds those who struggle. For those who offer pardon and those who find peace.
“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”
(Words of Francis of Assisi) May we live into that peace, fully in our hearts and loving all of God’s creation – and see the gift of creation, see the Good news all around us and in the pets that are in our care. Amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doubt as a Sign of Faith

A few weeks ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury said about doubt,
"Yes. I do. In lots of different ways really. It's a very good question. That means I've got to think about what I'm going to say. Yes I do...I love the Psalms, if you look at Psalm 88, that's full of doubt."
For some, it seemed like blasphemy.  For most, myself included, it was an honest response.

Read this article:

I found it to be a good article and quite refreshing.  She is right.  Doubt is a sign of faith.

(The opposite of faith is not doubt but fear.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 28 Sermon

By what authority are you doing these things?
Hundreds of students marched Thursday in the fifth day of demonstrations against the Jefferson County school board, which oversees the second-largest school district in Colorado. Protests began last Friday after members of the board called for a review of the new Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH) curriculum to see whether it promotes "respect for authority" or encourages "civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law." By Thursday, the protests had grown to include nearly 1,000 students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools. [Huffington Post]
By what authority are you doing these things?
Legions of demonstrators frustrated by international inaction on global warming descended on New York City on Sunday, marching through the heart of Manhattan with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather this week at the United Nations for a summit meeting on climate change. Coursing through Midtown, from Columbus Circle to Times Square and the Far West Side, the People’s Climate March was a spectacle even for a city known for doing things big, and it was joined, in solidarity, by demonstrations on Sunday across the globe, from Paris to Papua New Guinea. [NY Times]
By what authority are you doing these things?
Hundreds of children joined students demanding greater democracy for Hong Kong on Friday, capping a week-long campaign that has seen a large cut-out depicting the territory's leader as the devil paraded through the city and calls for him to resign. Secondary school pupils launched a one-day class boycott, supporting the university and college students who began their own class boycott on Monday with a rally that drew about 13,000. [Reuters]
By what authority are you doing these things?
When Jesus entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
It is the question that is often asked by those in power, when people rise up, when they speak up, when they protest and refuse to follow along.

Jesus pushed the envelope. He taught in the temple. He healed on the Sabbath. Gentile or Jew. Male or Female. Rich or poor. No one fell outside his love. And it provoked a reaction from those in power.

By what authority are you doing these things? After Jesus asks them a question, he turns the tables on them & tells them a parable…
"What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, `I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him."
The tax collectors and the prostitutes will go in the front of the line into the Kingdom of God. The chief priests and elders, the religiously righteous, will head to the back. It is not what we expect, but Jesus points out the truth in his parable, the ones deemed dirty, the sinners, they listened to the message, they heard John and believed. The righteous ones, did not listen, failed to follow through with their yes, they didn’t change their minds or their hearts.

It is Jesus who is protesting. He is walking the line. He is carrying the banner. Do we see it? For Jesus will not be confined to our ideological boxes nor will he be left only in the Church to be found each week. He is outside. Waiting for us. In the midst of our lives. In the darkness and in the light. His life laid bare before us, his authority through what he said and he did.

Will you follow me? Will you listen? Will you go out as I have asked?

In the early 1960s, when the racial struggle was white-hot, an interracial retreat was held at a Benedictine monastery, Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas. One participant was a recent college graduate at work in voter registration in the Mississippi delta area of eastern Arkansas. He was asked, "Isn't that dangerous work you're doing? We hear the reports of hatred and violence."

"It's true," he said. "The hatred is vicious, and the punishment is violent.’ "Have you ever been hurt yourself?" The young college grad replied: ""Yes, I've been spit on, beaten with fists, with pipes, with chains and left a bloody mess." "But you're pretty big," the brothers said. "Weren't you able to protect yourself sometimes, to fight back?"

"Yes," he said. "At first I did fight back. I made some of them sorry they had attacked me. But then I realized that by fighting back I wasn't getting anywhere. The hatred coming at me in those fists and clubs was bouncing right off me back into the air, and it could just continue to spread like electricity. I decided I would not fight back. I would let my body absorb that hatred, so that some of it would die in my body and not bounce back into the world. I now see that my job in the midst of that evil is to make my body a grave for hate." The monks were deeply moved by the young man's story. "We were all shaken by what this young man said," one brother recalls. "But what he was describing was the Gospel of Jesus." [From "The Good Fight: How Christians suffer, died and rise with Jesus," by Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., America, April 25, 2011.]
Jesus’ parable of the two sons places the will of God in the middle of our busy, complicated everyday lives. All authority we need was given to us at Baptism, to live our lives as followers of Jesus. But to do that, we must say Yes and follow through. For as St. Paul reminds us, “it is God who is at work in us.”

Compassion, forgiveness and mercy are only words until our actions give full expression to those values in our relationships with others; our identifying ourselves as Christians and calling ourselves disciples of Jesus mean nothing until our lives express such Gospel values.

The words of the Gospel must be lived; Jesus’ teachings on justice, reconciliation and love must be the light that guides us, the path we walk, the prayers we work to make a reality in our lives. Discipleship begins within our hearts, where we realize that Christ is present there and in the lives of others and then honoring that presence through meaningful acts of compassion and charity in the world. Amen.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Parenthood without Marriage

MARRIAGE is disappearing. More than 40 percent of new mothers are unmarried. Many young adults drift into parenthood unintentionally. They may be cohabiting at the time of their child’s birth, but about half of these couples will have split up by the time their child is 5 years old. College-educated young adults are still marrying before having children and planning their families more intentionally. The rest of America, about two-thirds of the population, is not.We’ve been worrying about these trends for years, and wondering: Can marriage be restored as the standard way to raise children? As much as we might welcome a revival, I doubt that it will happen. The genie is out of the bottle. What we need instead is a new ethic of responsible parenthood.
Is the genie really out of the bottle?  Is marriage over?

For Christians, Marriage is Holy.  “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 422)  For Christians, parenthood and marriage go hand in hand, but we should always be aware that our ideal does not always take place.

In her opinion piece, Beyond Marriage by ISABEL V. SAWHILL, has written an article about the need for us as a citizenry to look at ways to help promote the general welfare, in light of less marriages taking place and the need for responsible parenthood.

An except:

Not only are 40 percent of all children born outside marriage (50 percent among mothers under 30), but 60 percent of these births were unplanned. New parents often come to accept and love the baby, but it is not an auspicious beginning. Research I did with Quentin Karpilow and Joanna Venator at the Brookings Institution shows that unplanned births affect children’s development, including their chances of graduating from college and earning a middle-class income...

It is in this context that any efforts, like the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby to curtail access to the most effective forms of birth control, are misguided. If we could make the most effective forms of birth control available to all women with no co-payment, we would not only have healthier children and lower child poverty rates, we would limit the extent of government assistance people need in the process...

But greater access to the most effective forms of contraception is not enough. We also need a new ethic of responsible parenthood. That means not having a child before you and your partner really want one and have thought about how you will care for that child. Those from less privileged backgrounds may worry that they will never be able to afford a child. But two full-time $10-an-hour jobs bring in roughly $40,000 a year, hardly a princely sum yet enough to support a family well above the poverty line, even after child care and other expenses. These families should be receiving child-care subsidies and other forms of help.
Prayers on family from the BCP:

O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child.  Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those  who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among  us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love  whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance
for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you,  and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 14 Sermon

"How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."

Forgiveness is not easy. It may be one of the hardest things that Jesus asks of us.
“Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”
As the old saying goes, to err is human, to forgive divine. And yet Jesus calls us to do just that, forgive. Again, & again and again.

On my wrist, I wear a bracelet. The bracelet has the signature of Nelson Mandela. One reason, I wear it, is because it reminds me that at the moment of truth, after decades in prison, Madiba chose forgiveness.

As you remember, Nelson Mandela was a human rights lawyer and freedom fighter, but for many of the white South Africans, he was a terrorist. In 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for his participation in several bombings around South Africa.

As Mandela wrote in his autobiography, "A Long Walk to Freedom," he was suffering at the hands of his captors, and he became determined to study his enemy. He wanted to understand them. He wanted to know them. He befriended many of his prison guards. And by the end, Mandela forgave the Afrikaners.

He forgave them. That same forgiveness Jesus asks of us. Forgiveness removed the shackles of hate that he wore & he knew that such forgiveness was going to be the key to any reconciliation in SA.
"Forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear. That's why it's such a powerful weapon." ~ Madiba
Forgiveness ultimately is not about someone else. It is about us. Our hearts and our lives, if we forgive others we will be truly free. Madiba came to understand that truth that forgiveness will help us be free, to let go of whatever injury we sustained, and find healing.
As Desmond Tutu put it, “The invitation to forgive is not an invitation to forget. Nor is it an invitation to claim that an injury is less hurtful than it really is. Nor is it a request to paper over the fissure in a relationship, to say it’s okay when it’s not. It’s not okay to be injured. It’s not okay to be abused. It’s not okay to be violated. It’s not okay to be betrayed. The invitation to forgive is an invitation to find healing and peace.”
Forgiveness is at the heart of our faith if we are to be called disciples of Jesus Christ. We see this in Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant that we heard today. Again, Jesus shakes up our understandings to see the Kingdom of God in new ways.

The parable begins with a king settling his accounts. When a slave who is brought to him owing a huge sum, one he could not pay, he is ordered to be sold with his family to repay the debt. That is his prerogative. It’s his slave, and he wants his money. Sell them. But the slave promises to pay the king everything he owes, which of course as a slave he could never obtain that amount of wealth. Ever.

But the king has mercy; he has a change of heart. He releases the slave and forgives the debt. That’s it. No repayment necessary. Not even a little bit of what he owed. The slave is freed!
"But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt."
The slave who was freed, fails to show mercy like the king did to him. Unlike the king, he was not transformed, . The king hears about it and relents of his mercy and has him tortured until the debts are paid off because he did not have mercy and forgive his fellow slave. And how does Jesus end this parable?

“So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” That is blunt. Forgive your brother or sister, from your heart!
As one of my seminary professors has put it, “the main message of Jesus was about forgiveness and how it transforms lives.” (Bill Countryman) 

The king in the parable was transformed because he forgave the slave. The slave did not understand or could not do it, so his life was not transformed and he suffered for it. Jesus who died on the cross for us, for the forgiveness of our sins, gives us that gift of grace, the forgiveness of our sins. Not because we earned it, or begged in the right way, but because God wanted to do that.
As Wm. Paul Young, The Shack, puts it “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat......Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.........Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation.........Forgiveness does not excuse anything.........You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness......”
It reminds me that every day, twice a day (morning and night), monks following the rule of St. Benedict say the Lord’s Prayer, because as the rule says, “this is done because of the harm that is often done in a community by the thorns of conflict which can arise.” They hear the words, “forgive us as we also forgive,” and are called to forgive one another, to be cleansed from the stain of such evil, so they can live with one another in love.

In his parable on forgiveness, Jesus calls everyone to be his disciples in this work, to be ready and willing to make the first move toward forgiveness and to offer it from our hearts. So will we be the king who forgives & has mercy or the unforgiving slave who is not transformed?

Today let us remember the precious gifts we have been given and share these gifts with our troubled and hurting world today, which may be as close as our own home. Amen.

Why We Forgive

I used a quote from Desmond Tutu's work in my sermon on forgiveness last Sunday.  He and his daughter have written a fine book about forgiveness.  An except of the book is given here:
There were so many nights when I, as a young boy, had to watch helplessly as my father verbally and physically abused my mother. I can still recall the smell of alcohol, see the fear in my mother’s eyes, and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways. If I dwell in those memories, I can feel myself wanting to hurt my father back, in the same ways he hurt my mother, and in ways of which I was incapable as a small boy. I see my mother’s face and I see this gentle human being whom I loved so very much and who did nothing to deserve the pain inflicted upon her.

When I recall this story, I realize how difficult the process of forgiving truly is. Intellectually, I know my father caused pain because he was in pain. Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all. But it is still difficult. The traumas we have witnessed or experienced live on in our memories. Even years later they can cause us fresh pain each time we recall them.
Read the whole excerpt.  Then buy the book (or get it from your local library).

There were so many nights when I, as a young boy, had to watch helplessly as my father verbally and physically abused my mother. I can still recall the smell of alcohol, see the fear in my mother’s eyes, and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways. If I dwell in those memories, I can feel myself wanting to hurt my father back, in the same ways he hurt my mother, and in ways of which I was incapable as a small boy. I see my mother’s face and I see this gentle human being whom I loved so very much and who did nothing to deserve the pain inflicted upon her.
When I recall this story, I realize how difficult the process of forgiving truly is. Intellectually, I know my father caused pain because he was in pain. Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all. But it is still difficult. The traumas we have witnessed or experienced live on in our memories. Even years later they can cause us fresh pain each time we recall them.
- See more at:
There were so many nights when I, as a young boy, had to watch helplessly as my father verbally and physically abused my mother. I can still recall the smell of alcohol, see the fear in my mother’s eyes, and feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways. If I dwell in those memories, I can feel myself wanting to hurt my father back, in the same ways he hurt my mother, and in ways of which I was incapable as a small boy. I see my mother’s face and I see this gentle human being whom I loved so very much and who did nothing to deserve the pain inflicted upon her.
When I recall this story, I realize how difficult the process of forgiving truly is. Intellectually, I know my father caused pain because he was in pain. Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all. But it is still difficult. The traumas we have witnessed or experienced live on in our memories. Even years later they can cause us fresh pain each time we recall them.
- See more at: