March 15, 2007 by Stephen
Last night in Faith Builders we focused on forgiveness. Forgiveness is so powerful, yet we treat it so flippantly. This becomes more apparent when you are with children. They really do have a way of grasping these deep concepts in simple ways. After discussing forgiveness for awhile, the children overwhelmingly came to the conclusion that forgiveness is not only powerful, but it is powerful because of the way we experience it. They described how they felt when they forgave others and more so, how they felt when they had received forgiveness. That feeling was one of peace – a peace that only can be explained as coming from God. Forgiveness is powerful because it turns things upside down. Punishment turns to freedom, the messiness of sin to a clean slate. Only forgiveness (through God’s sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us – talk about turning things upside down!) bridges that separation from God that sin creates.
We used two prayer exercises to help us with understanding forgiveness. The first was The Prayer of Saint Francis. We meditated on the prayer to discover and experience God’s peace. The second was an imaginative prayer exercise. We imagined being on a walk to meet Jesus. Along the way, we are reminded of what we have done wrong and our need for forgiveness. When we finally are face to face with Jesus we pour out our wrongs to him and ask for forgiveness. Jesus forgives us with loving words and then reaches out for us and pick us up and gives us a big, soft hug. Can you imagine a better picture of forgiveness!?!
The Prayer of Saint Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
-Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)