Living a Life of Forgiveness
As we finish up our final week of the four-week preaching series, focusing on forgiveness and fresh starts, I am reflecting on how part of living a life of forgiveness is openness to trying new ways of showing up. The gospel text for this weekend is Matthew 21:23-32. where Jesus shares a parable of two sons responding to their father's request to go work in his vineyard. It is the one who "changed his mind" and changed his ways that does the work of the father. Changing one's mind and actions- repentance- is living and showing up in a new and different way. This is the invitation of living a life of forgiveness. We get to keep on making fresh starts and let in God's forgiveness.
Part of the journey of following Jesus invites us to step outside our comfort zones, take risks, at times change our minds and change our ways when we are off-course, to admit when we fail, rise again after we fall and try again and again and again. This past week our Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA Theological Conference invited us to A.C.T (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism. We didn't get to where we are in months or years. The undoing and ending of centuries of injustice require changes that take time and will involve a lot of admitting where we have failed, fallen, and are in need of forgiveness.
The Theological Conference was both powerful and challenging, life-giving and exhausting. And the invitation was not only into changed minds and hearts also into changed awareness and actions. It's going to take openness to the power and presence of the Spirit guiding us and leading us. Perseverance in prayer, acceptance of places in my life in deep need of God's grace and forgiveness and willingness to take the next steps of action open to God's guidance and direction are some of the take aways for me.
Here is the prayer "Loosen My Grip" by Ted Loder, I refer to in the vlog above:
O God, it is hard for me to let go, most times, and the squeeze I exert, garbles me and gnarls others. So, loosen my grip a bit on the good times, on the moments of sunlight and star shine and joy, that the thousand graces they scatter as they pass may nurture growth in me rather than turn to brittle memories.
Loosen my grip on those grudges and grievances I hold so closely, that I may risk exposing myself to the spirit of forgiving and forgiveness that changes things and resurrects dreams and courage.
Loosen my grip on my fears that I may be released a little into humility and into an acceptance of my humanity.
Loosen my grip on myself that I may experience the freedom of a fool who knows that to believe is to see kingdoms, find power, sense glory; to reach out is to know myself held; to laugh at myself is to be in on the joke of your grace; to attend to each moment is to hear the faint melody of eternity; to dare love is to smell the wild flowers of heaven.
Loosen my grip on my ways and words, on my fears and fretfulness that letting go into the depths of silence and my own uncharted longings, I may find myself held by you and linked anew to all life in this wild and wondrous world you love so much, so I may take to heart that you have taken me to heart.
May the words of this prayer become your prayer, as they fit for you, on your journey of "loosening your grip" and letting in the forgiveness that God is offering you again and again and again. God needs us. God guides us. God is with us. Together lets go to work in the vineyard to do God's work with our hands.