One of our former pastors here at First Congregational Church, Pastor Dawn Karlson, whose ministry focused on our youth, and, who, like her successor, Pastor Rachel, is much younger and cooler that I, at least according to my teenage daughters, used to have a cartoon on her door—I think from the New Yorker magazine. In the cartoon a grandfather walks down the street hand-in-hand with his grandson. The older man says to the boy. “Back in my day we didn’t have Google—we had unanswered questions.”
Lent has begun again, and through these forty days we tell the story of pain and death, and there are so many unanswered questions. During our midweek services this Lent we will explore some of those questions through the last words Jesus spoke from the cross. Traditionally the church has recognized seven last words that Jesus uttered, or in one case, shouted, from the cross. Today we begin with the first: “Father, forgive them.”
Forgiveness It is probably the question I am most often asked as a pastor: “How do I forgive this person who did this terrible wrong to me?” It may be a question you bring this afternoon as well. And I have to confess, I really don’t know the answer to that question. It can be the most difficult thing in the world to forgive. Sometimes it is about petty things, things you just have to get over, a forgotten birthday, a hurtful comment. But forgiveness can also be extremely complicated, for I believe that forgiveness never means staying in relationships or situations that are abusive or dangerous...
Jesus, from the cross, looks down on us and sees exactly who we are, exactly where we are broken and misguided and hateful. And beloved, Jesus response to all that he sees at the foot of cross is what forgiveness is about, is what Lent is about. Lent is about knowing that even when life is all chaos and pain and struggle, the only note that God will slip under your door, even at your very worst moment, will say,
“I love you.”
Read the rest of the meditation here.