March 30th. I Forgive You.

March 30th. I Forgive You.

TAKE A MOMENT TO BREATHE IN GOD’S PRESENCE as you begin.


Luke 23:32-43

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


“I Forgive You” by Jim Fisher

Today I feel strong enough to venture down into the dungeon of my soul. You all know that place. It’s the cold, dark, damp basement where we have imprisoned those who have hurt us on purpose.

It’s the Friday of Holy Week. Seems appropriate somehow. On Thursday Jesus gave his disciples the commandment to love each other. That was the night Jesus spent time imprisoned in the pit beneath Caiaphas’ house. And on Friday morning Jesus pleaded, “Father, forgive them.”

I open the creaky door at the top of the stairwell and hesitantly walk step-by-step down into the stone-cold darkness. With each step, the knot of fear grows larger in my chest. With each step, my heart pounds increasingly faster. With each step, the instinct to flee upstairs back into my comfort zone fights for control of my legs.

“I can do this,” I assure myself. “I really CAN do this.”

I reach the first cell to the right at the bottom of the stairs.

No.

Not that one.

I am not ready for him.

Not yet.

I take a few steps over to the next cell. With a deep breath, I summon up all my available compassion and ask, “How long have I held you here?”

“Twenty-two years, seven months, thirteen days, twelve hours, and forty-seven minutes,” drones a a voice from the other side of the rusty iron gate. Even in the darkness I can feel the chilling eye-roll of contempt from within.

I am tempted to list the charges against this prisoner. I am tempted to scream “DON’T YOU GET HOW MUCH YOU SCREWED UP MY LIFE?” My heart boils with a stinky stew of emotions: fear, anger, bitterness, sadness, disgust. They’re all there. Seething. I am tempted to hurl the whole cauldron of it into the cell and leave.

But instead, I draw a breath, a really deep breath that reaches deep into my chest and airs out the musty, moldy memories. I reach around my fears, deep into the pockets of my soul, pull out the key, and slowly unlock the door replying simply, “You are free to go. I forgive you.”

And as I watch this one walk back upstairs into the light, I want this one to repent. I want this one to feel sorry. I want this one to see my suffering.

No, more than that. I want this one to suffer like I did.

I want fairness.

I want justice.

No. Let’s be honest. I want revenge.

But I know that won’t happen. Not with this one. This one will go on with their life as if nothing happened.

Lord, forgive me.

No.

That is too easy. I need more than that.

Lord, help me forgive me.

Sobbing, standing in a pool of my own tears, I kneel, scraping up my anger, my frustration, my guilt, my shame, my suffering, my need for answers off the floor into a bucket and return to the top of the stairs. Heading out into the light, I hold the bucket up to God and ask that its contents be brought into the His Light, aired-out, bleached, purified, and made clean.

Take this muck, this dirt, and grow something new.

Please!

Oh, Lord! Help me with this one!

… because I have a few more to go.


PRAYER. God, bring us into more of the fullness of your commandment to love one another. As you have shown us the way of profound love and grace, may we journey into our souls–and by your love and Spirit might we find the freedom to love and release, even those who have wish our death. On this Good Friday, we give you thanks for your love and solidarity with us, even as we know ourselves to be in profound need of your grace and forgiveness. AMEN.

TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE as you close.

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