Perhaps you feel like you’ve been hearing the word “forgiveness” a lot lately at St. James. The Revitalization Team includes “practice forgiveness” as one of the points in our congregational covenant, which will be shared as a first draft at our Nov. 11 Congregational Meeting. This working document includes feedback from nearly 50 of our congregation’s leaders, so it’s clear that many of you feel like forgiveness is a significant part of the life of faith. We also talk about forgiveness every time we pass the Peace of Christ during worship. Peter Steinke talks about forgiveness as something that “gives power to the future.” This doesn’t mean just any future, but one that is full of hope and healing. In forgiving another, Steinke suggests we must work through these ten steps in a gradual process:
I have been wronged by you
I have the right and reason to end any connection between us
I have the right and reason to demand from you a payment or an apology
My sense of dignity and my values require nothing less
Nonetheless I refuse to let the wrong consume me in resentment;
And I refuse to let the wrong come between us.
I give no assurance that I’ll be able to forget the wrong that you’ve done;
I demand no condition. Whether or not you accept my forgiveness or ask for it has nothing to do with my offer;
I want to be at peace with myself and be glad in your presence.
I want to open the door to tomorrow.
As we are nearly all engaged at all times in some process of forgiveness, I offer these steps as one way to consider the great challenge and reward of our faith.