Forgiveness is something important that we all need in our lives. We all make mistakes and do daft things. We all say something snarky or do something dorky that ends up annoying our families, friends, neighbors, or working colleagues. Even in church, where we all should know better, we hurt others with our words and harm relationships with gossip.
Forgiveness is one of the key elements of Christ’s message. In His own time, He was widely known as a preacher, teacher, and healer. However, there are many Gospel passages that reveal to us His main role – He was a Forgiver, or as we say in church world, He was (and still is) the Savior.
As we watch the overnight violence in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and see how rage and fear, injustice and racism are manipulated into anarchy, people have quickly forgotten that the parents of Michael Brown asked for the inevitable protests to be peaceful demonstrations, so that justice, mercy, and forgiveness could be at the heart of reconciling, restoring, and renewing the whole community. It’s sad to see that their words went unheeded.
Long after the last store is looted, the last car is burned, the last canister of tear gas is launched, and the last word of hate is spoken, forgiveness will be needed to heal the wounds. Without it, there will be no progress towards real peace. Perhaps then, this is a special time when the Church can intervene and help guide the many sides towards reconciliation, hope, and healing. Christ’s power of forgiveness can do this, but only if and when the community seeks His help.
Questions for personal reflection
What do I feel about the riots in Ferguson? What should I be praying for?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we call You the Prince of Peace and Savior of the World. Today, we ask that Your Holy Presence may be found and experienced in the streets and stores, homes, and churches in Ferguson, Missouri. We pray that Your followers may be inspired to seek peace and reconciliation by offering forgiveness and love. Help Your churches in the area to come together and empower them to bring healing to the hearts that are hurting, as well as faith to those who are afraid. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s drawings called “Face to Face.” It represents dialogue and embracing between races. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Face to Face.