Pastor’s Discipleship Letter. September 13, 2020
Focus Scripture: Matthew 18: 21 – 35
The key message of this passage is clear: disciples are to forgive one another. The first verses highlight just how expansive forgiveness is to be. When Peter asks Jesus if he should forgive seven times, no doubt thinking this was extreme, Jesus replies, no, seventy-seven times. The story / parable that Jesus then shares is a cautionary tale about how not to forgive.
Jesus’ story focuses especially on debts. This links the story to the forgiveness petition in the Lord’s Prayer, and to Jesus’ Jubilee proclamation in Luke 4. (The year of the Lord’s favor is the jubilee year when debts are to be forgiven and cancelled.)
More broadly the passage points us toward being a forgiven and forgiving people. My good friend Scott Hutchinson and I have been getting together for breakfast or lunch at least monthly for about 15 years. (We are now meeting via Facebook video chat or on the phone.) Scott is a UCC pastor who has done a lot of work on forgiveness and forgiveness ministry. His website is www.forgivenesslab.com
Scott often shares that forgiveness is the very heart of God. Forgiveness forms the essence of our relationship with God. A key point of Christian theology is that it is through Jesus Christ that we find God’s forgiveness. (One theological viewpoint is that Christ creates this link to God’s forgiveness. Another theological viewpoint holds that the link to God’s forgiveness is always there, but Christ illuminates and helps us connect to it. In any case, though Christ we are connected to God’s forgiveness and are a forgiven people.)
- How can we as a congregation bring forgiveness into our society?
- Why is centering forgiveness important as disciples?
- Do you find centering forgiveness hard in your life?
- What is it about forgiveness that forms us in the Way of Jesus?
- Which is easier for you: to forgive others, or to accept the forgiveness of others