Saturday, October 6, 2007


Forgiveness is such a hard thing sometimes and yet Jesus was clear on its necessity when he said that God would forgive our sins if we forgive others and would not forgive us if we did not forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). Peter asked, "how many times shall we forgive? Seven times?" Jesus answered: "Seventy times seven!" (Matthew 18:21-22). Think of how many times God forgives us. Our accumulated sins would add up to much more than 490 and yet, every Sunday, at the Lord's Table we remember his words: "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28).

A rabbi was scheduled to speak on forgiveness, says Rachel Remen in My Grandfather's Blessings, "but instead he walked out into the congregation, took his infant daughter from his wife, and carrying her in his arms, stepped up to the podium. The little girl was perhaps a year old and she was adorable. From her father's arms she smiled at the congregation. Every heart melted. Turning to her daddy, she patted him on the cheek with her tiny hands. He smiled fondly at her and with his customary dignity began a rather traditional Yom Kuppur sermon.

The baby girl, feeling his attention shift away from her, reached forward and grabbed his nose. Gently he freed himself and continued the sermon. After a few minutes, she took his tie and put it in her mouth. The entire congregation chuckled. The rabbi rescued his tie and smiled at his child. She put her tiny arms around his neck. Looking at us over the top of her head, he said, "Think about it. Is there anything she can do that you could not forgive her for?" Throughout the room people began to nod in recognition, thinking perhaps of their own children and grandchildren. Just then, she reached up and grabbed his eyeglasses. Everyone laughed out loud.

Retrieving his eyeglasses and settling them on his nose, the rabbi laughed as well. Still smiling, he waited for silence. When it came he asked, "And when does that stop? When does it get hard to forgive? At three? At seven? At fourteen? At thirty-five? How old does someone have to be before you forget that everyone is a child of God?" (p 99).

Does God ever forget that we are his children? When does God stop forgiving? At a certain number of sins, or at a certain age? Of course not! If the Lord's Supper says anything at all it says, "come as you are, co0me with your sins and guilt, come at any age and at any time with faith and repentance, and receive this cup and hear again his words, "this is my blood ... shed for the forgiveness of sins."

1 comment:

Heather said...
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