Monday, February 22, 2010

From Fear to Forgiveness: Waiting

1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27 starts with these words and then concludes with: Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
To let go of the fear I harbor in my heart and mind means allowing God to be the stronghold, the one I trust to give me courage. This I understand, but to wait? Bridges from fear to forgiveness have to be built! I need to work really hard to make this possible don't I? What do you mean I have to wait?
I wonder if it has anything to do with what they say on the Olympics broadcast concerning the skiers or the bobsledders or the skaters. They have trained very hard, they are in great shape, but if they over train, or if they do not relax then they force the performance, and due to their tension lose precious seconds that means the difference between a medal or not.
Of course we do not get gold or silver or bronze rewards as Christians, but I wonder if I am so busy, so focused on working hard, that I miss the presence of the God of my salvation? Maybe I do everything but take the time to wait, to listen, to feel how the Spirit is guiding me?
God has already built the bridge to forgiveness, God invites us to make the crossing, to allow the Spirit not fear to guide us over all the obstacles along the way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent: From Fear to Forgiveness

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. During Lent, our worship will be centered around the passage from Ephesians 4:31-5:2 "Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."(NRSV)

As I think about what radical behavior it takes for us to go from fear to forgiveness, I like the image of a bridge. I have always admired bridges for their beauty, as well as the engineering it took to build. Many persons have lost there lives in the building of these spans, due to the difficulty of building them. Growing up in Massachusetts we had many types of bridges around us, a singing bridge in town, there was the bridge of flowers up the road, just to name a few.
The bridge that God builds for us to grow closer to our creator is a gift. We do not earn it, we do not create it. But for us to go from fear to forgiveness, it means leaving behind our old ways of bitterness and wrath, anger and slander, to live a life of love. This is not any easy choice, and not one we make only once.
Lent is a reminder of how dilagent we need to be in crossing the bridges that bring us closer to God and one another.
John Wesley the founder of United Methodism was passionate about the practices of faith that would lead to this life of love. His called his followers to gather in small groups, classes so they could learn how to leave behind their old ways and accept the new way of Christ. Lent is a time to practice a new way of living, of giving up something that has caused us to be bitter, unforgiving, and cross the bridge to a new place in our lives, of forgiving and loving. We cannot do this alone, it is a journey we need to take together. So I will be posting more often and want you to tell me, what gets in the way of your being able to forgive, and what has given you the courage to forgive? I pray together we will learn about how to forgive more powerfully!