Monthly Archives: March 2014

Shocking!

Thanks to my little brother for this shout out of WSU!

The Kansas Expatriate

Being from Wichita Kansas I am, understandably, quite excited about the WSU Shockers.  They are undefeated, which only seven other teams have managed to do in NCAA history.  All of those teams entered the tournament before it fully expanded, however.  This isn’t a fluke, as the Shockers did really well last year.  And finally, they have a really cool logo:

 

Currently living in Toledo Ohio let me just say to the Big 10, and I mean this as respectfully and delicately as possible:  GET OVER YOURSELVES.

Now Big 10 enthusiasts, take a couple of breaths and try to let the little dogs have their ever so brief moment in the sun.  I know it is hard giving up the spotlight and the best you could muster up was an anemic 7th in the polls but honestly, they do actually have athletics in other areas of the country.

I know…

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What Forgiveness is Not

For Lent this year, I am preaching a sermon series on “The Forgiveness Factor.”  One of the most asked for sermons, in my experience, is a sermon on forgiveness.  I think forgiveness needs more than one sermon, it needs a series and probably should be preached about once a year.  

Forgiveness is not easy,  simple and or a one time event.  Part of the reason for the series, is that like grief, I believe forgiveness is a process, and with all the research I have done, I am obviously not the only one.  Forgiveness requires commitment, faith and a belief that in forgiving one is not only set free, but one has an opportunity to let go of bitterness, resentment and hatred and have space for grace and love.

In today’s sermon, I spoke to what forgiveness is not.  I think it almost impossible to begin the process of forgiveness without defining what it isn’t.  So often I have heard versions of, “I would forgive, but…”  

I did not create this list, it came from multiple sources.  So here is the list of what forgiveness is not, including full citations (which is hard to do in the midst of preaching and was not cited in full on the screen):

  Forgiveness is not forgetting

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/forgiveness/understanding-forgiveness 

  Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing. Or saying what the person did was okay.

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/forgiveness/understanding-forgiveness

  Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/forgiveness/understanding-forgiveness

  Forgiveness is not justice

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/forgiveness/understanding-forgiveness

 Forgiveness does not mean the person can abuse you, wrong you again, or that you allow others to do so.

When you can’t say “I Forgive You”,   By Grace Ketterman, M.D. And David Hazard

  Forgiveness is not trusting the person or relieving them of responsibility.

http://www.laurapetherbridge.com/Articles/What-Forgiveness-Is-NOT.htm

In other words, the forgiveness is not about the other person, it is a spiritual practice that is about me and about you.  When we get past the idea that somehow the other person will “get away with something” and away from the idea if we hang on to our anger and bitterness that somehow it will change the past, the situation or the other person, we are free to let go and leave everything in hands of God.  

In the words of Paul, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12: 17-18)  Or in the words of a image I saw on Facebook (unattributed of course)
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Forgiveness is not a blanket invitation for a person who hurt us to have an open invitation to do so again. Reconciliation is wonderful if it occurs.  Justice when served is right and good.  These things do not always happen, but are not necessary for forgiveness.  What is necessary is for each one of us to give up the past, the resentment and bitterness that hold us captive.  
In the midst of all that occurs, for good and ill, God has promised forgiveness to us and through Christ challenges us to forgive others.  In the midst of the process of forgiveness, I am graced to serve.

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Visual gifts

This last week I have ended up with two new bracelets.  Both gifts, one from my husband and one from a little girl in the congregation.  I actually love bracelets, I don’t them clanging and bashing into my laptop when I am working, but I like seeing them on my wrist.  Most of my bracelets mean something.

I have an Italian charm bracelet with charms given to me by my sister and my husband.  I have an old fashioned charm bracelet, the first charm, a handbell given to me by my handbell director and also a star with 18in the center of it.  It was sent to me in Switzerland as a birthday gift for my eighteenth birthday.  I collected charms all over Europe and in the United States. I have a very special bracelet given to me by my mother, with an identical one give to my twin sister.  I wear it often and think of my mom and my sister.

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The little girl at West Heights had been making bracelets.  This one was woven with sparkly rubber bands in rainbow colors.  It looks like this:

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Isn’t is fabulous?  Each rubber band it’s own unique circle, intertwined with other rubber bands to make this beautiful circle of color.  I am delighted to wear this gift and see the sparkles and all the pastel colors of the rainbow.

The second bracelet was purchased at the Watoto Children’s Choir concert held here at the church I serve last Friday evening.    Many of the items to be purchased were made by in their Sustaining Hope ministry.  They provide a place for women who are HIV+  along with medical care, basic necessities and a generating income through a variety of income generating projects.  I have a necklace to match.

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Each of these bracelets represent community, relationship and love.  All three were gifts from someone I love.  Two were handmade, one with the joy of a child and the other with the hope that comes from being rescued out of horrific circumstances and given new life and possibilities.

These visual gifts of grace and love remind me how good life is.  I am so grateful, for family, for friends and for the ability to help others through my donations and purchases I can make to help others.  For me, it is easy to sleepwalk through the day, not paying enough attention to all the visual gifts available.  I need the reminder that love is a blessing, that hope is empowering and that family, friends and community make faith real and life a blessing.

I am graced to serve.

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