As A People Who Forgive One Another
If we look at the Hebrew and Greek words for sin, they do not always focus on evil, or even on doing wrong. Sin includes “missing the mark.” The God who created us, who breathed into us the breath of life, holds an absolute claim (Genesis 2:7). Part of this claim is how we treat other people, who also carry within them the breath of God.
In the Ten Commandments, the first four govern right-relationship with God, but the next six govern our relationships with each other. Ten, however, was not enough. The Bible gives 603 more commandments. Was this God’s way of setting a concrete, but impossible standard which would daily remind the chosen people of the need of forgiveness?
For a decade, my life was engulfed in intermittent crises. I did not always respond in a Quakerly fashion. The need to forgive myself each night and go to sleep praying to do better the next day made me less judgmental and more forgiving of others. Plowing the ground of my own sin prepared the way for the seeds of forgiveness.
I have also learned about forgiveness through Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Intervisitation program. Intervisitation is the practice of visiting between communities to strengthen the bonds of relationship and learn and grow together with Divine guidance. Welcoming and visiting Friends of different practices has opened Baltimore Yearly Meeting to a bigger picture of God’s work in the world. For me the program also opened a realization of our own part in the brokenness that now endangers Friends United Meeting. Perhaps the first step toward organizational healing is for each of us to recognize our own “missing the mark” as bearers of the very breath of God.
Query for Reflection
Living Christ, how can Friends be a community gathered in forgiveness?
Each week, search for one step toward reconciliation you can take with Friends near and far, seen and unseen.
Loving God, open to me my shortcomings and make me tender toward the shortcomings of others.