Thursday, September 19, 2019

Love and forgiveness

"So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love."
"I tell you, that is why her sins are forgiven--because of her great love."
"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she has loved much."
Three different translations of Luke 7:47

So I looked at three translations of today's Gospel reading to answer the question:
Which came first, the forgiveness or the love? In the first and third translations, it seems like the woman shows great love because her sins have been forgiven. In the second, her sins are forgiven because of her love. What gives? I think the bottom line in this is that forgiveness and love go hand in hand. Real love leads to forgiveness. Real forgiveness comes from love. They go together like peanut butter and jelly (thanks, Forrest Gump!) What does that look like in our lives? It means that, if we really love, we can go to the place, deep within our hearts and find God's grace to forgive. It's right there within us, all along. Our hearts sincerely want to reconcile and forgive because of our love for the other person. It doesn't mean the hurt didn't happen or that the pain just goes away, but that the love is bigger than the pain or hurt. The grace of God gives us that sense that our hearts are bigger, our love can overwhelm the hurt. Today, instead of nit-picking through the various translations (I saved you the trouble!), let's just remember that love and forgiveness go together, hand in hand, heart-to-heart. They are within our reach, too, deep in our hearts, to be given freely to others. Love, heidi

Monday, September 16, 2019

Welcome, then Rejoice!

"Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'"
Luke 15:6-7

Our Gospel yesterday was the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin and I'm still thinking about it today. Pastor Gretchen asked us who the lost are in our world. Who are those who feel left out, on the fringe; who have wandered away from the fold? Did they feel unwelcome in the fold? Did they feel they didn't belong, or did they feel unworthy or deficient in some way? Should we, like the Good Shepherd go after them? And what if they return...would we rejoice? She pointed out that many ELCA churches have published statements of inclusion, welcoming everyone to their faith communities. No matter what your previous religious experience (or lack of), your race, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, or political leanings. EVERYONE is welcome. Period. "Yay," I thought to myself, "This is why I joined this community." But, as I think about it still, I realize it must go way beyond just make an inclusion statement. It's much more than putting a rainbow on our sign or having a banner saying "All Means All--Are Welcome." It may mean stretching our own beliefs and putting our actions out there as visible testimonies to what our sign says. Our hearts may need to change before an inclusive sign will mean anything at all. Once our hearts change,  our actions follow, and then our sign will really BE valid. And then (here's the best part) we will rejoice! Today, let's think about who the lost may be in our own circle of influence...can we search for them as God searches for us? Love, heidi