Everything you wanted to know about Christianity
at the Anglican Parish of the Otways
Please join me each week for our reflections
of sermons conducted during our church service.
Plus, occasional splashes of humour and epiphanies!
With much Love and Blessings
Rev. Jenny Brandon
IN 2006, 5 Amish school girls were killed and 11 wounded,
by a shooter in Pennsylvania.
The Amish community
not only comforted the shooter’s wife and children,
they forgave him.
could not understand how they could forgive
as they mourned the death of their own innocent children.
Sometimes I think we ask ourselves; how can people forgive such a heinous crime against innocents?
After Jesus spoke about the importance of forgiveness,
Peter asks Jesus,
“but how often do we have to forgive someone.”
To summarise Jesus answer - ALWAYS!
Jesus then told a parable
about the wicked slave who is forgiven a huge sum
by his master,
but then goes out and throws a fellow slave in prison
for being owed just a fraction.
We hear that the wicked slave is punished,
not because he owes money,
but because of his failure to forgive..
This parable shows just how seriously
Jesus is about forgiveness.
Perhaps because we so often see immense hurt and evil in our world
we want to see justice done.
We cannot imagine why people maim and kill innocent people.
We cannot understand the sickness of domestic abuse,
trafficking of young men and women and children,
the horror of genocide.
These evils need to be dealt with.
and humanity deserves to live in peace and safety.
Things were no better in Jesus’ time.
Slavery, war, murder, genocide, abuse were as rampant then
as they are now .
And it is in the midst of this trauma Jesus makes it very plain
that we must forgive or we, too, will suffer punishment.
So, how do we start?
We might look once again at the Amish.
Their ability to forgive came from the centre of their theology,
which is the Lord’s prayer.
They sincerely believe it when they say,
“as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
What we may tend to forget, however,
which the Amish people also made quite clear,
is that forgiveness did not take away the burning pain of loss,
the near despair of losing children.
That old cliché “forgive and forget” just doesn’t work.
Nor is it realistic.
Forgiveness doesn’t numb our minds and hearts to the pain we feel.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean justice does not need to be carried out.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that perpetrators must not be stopped
just because our hearts have gotten all warm and fuzzy
with our forgiveness of them.
So how can we deal with hurt and trauma
and our need to forgive?
Its hard when we are the ones who have been hurt,
Hurt goes deep.
Seeking reconciliation is hard.
One response is to pray for those who have hurt us.
Matthew 5:43 tells us
Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so
Sometimes, when the hurt is deep,
all we can do is offer the situation
and the people who have hurt us to God in prayer.
BY doing this we allow God to upgrade our thinking
our perceptions and expectations,
our attitude and language,
our patterns of thinking about God, ourselves and others
so that our thought focus is aligned more with
God’s attitudes towards us.
The good news in all this is that we are not alone
when we are called to forgive or to seek reconciliation.
In it all, God is partnering with us.
Because God understands.
God has shown us the ultimate image of forgiveness
when Jesus died on the cross for us all,
taking our sins upon himself and promising us resurrection.
Forgiveness is only possible if we remember God is within
and God is our strength.
That promise upholds us
even when our willingness to reconcile with another
or forgive is rejected.
Later, when you pray the Lord’s Prayer,
take the words “as we forgive those who trespass against us,” into our hearts.
Only then, can we begin to understand what forgiveness is all about.
The Lord be with you.
About the author
Rev. Jenny is an ordained Priest of the Anglican Diocese delivering services at Anglican Parish of the Otway churches every week.
With great depth of knowledge and a spiritual practice that shows she walks her talk and has taken her to the far reaches of N.T. Australia working with indigenous youth and elders.