Sunday, October 22, 2006

Forgiveness = "Becoming Human"

While stopping at a Salvation Army Thrift Store today, to prepare for my kids school Halloween special, I picked up a book which I have always wanted to buy. That for a dollar! (imagine what goodies we can get if we know where to look!) It is a book by Jean Vanier about the importance of connecting humanness with spirituality. Both are meant to be together and inseparable, though we might at times for the sake of understanding, study them separately. Essentially, the main point in the book is:

"we cannot grow spiritually if we ignore our humanness, just as we cannot become fully human if we ignore spirituality."

Spirituality is in vogue nowadays. Religion is out while spirituality is in. The main problem is that if people separates the sacred from the secular, they will eventually separate spirituality from humanness. The chapter that struck me most is LONELINESS where Vanier goes on to detail 7 aspects of love that can transform the hearts of those who are profoundly lonely. These 7 are: to reveal, to understand, to communicate, to celebrate, to empower, to be in communion and finally to forgive.

Interestingly, this morning's sermon is about forgiveness. Drawing from 3 separate passages from the New Testament (sinful women, ungrateful servant & Lord's prayer), the preacher encourages us to live a life of forgiveness. Being a preacher myself, I have one ear listening to the sermon while my other ear devising ways to deliver my own sermon version using the same passages. These two entry points does not usually works, but that happened today. Anyway, Vanier puts this seventh factor as the most crucial of them all in addressing one's loneliness. My pastor said it. Vanier said it, so now it is my turn.

My sermon on forgiveness will be something like this. "As I think about it, we are not perfect creatures. We all make mistakes in relationships. Hence, we are always prone to allowing our brokenness to cause the breaking of other relationships. This cannot be helped. Since we cannot build perfect relationships, the next best thing we can do is to learn to mend whatever relationships we have broken. Forgiveness is the superglue of relationships. Far too often, we apply forgiveness to others like a Post-It pad to achieve that momentary 'feel-good' factor. Let us be the superglue of relationships that mends over time. True authentic forgiveness is not merely saying things like [I am sorry], or [I forgive you] or [I am wrong]. It goes beyond the verbal output. It goes beyond the mental willingness to apologize. It goes beyond the sentimentality attached to it. True forgiveness hurts. This hurt is both ways. Authentic forgiveness is after saying sorry to the other party, when the other party subsequently become hurt in another situation, we too become hurt. That is true communion. When the body of Christ is fully mended and attached one to another, when one member hurts, the others hurt as well. In a broken home, or a broken community, if there is no pain, it might be there are cold hearts. Nerves already damaged. More likely, there has been no true forgiveness. "



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