A Lesson in Forgiveness

Posted: April 2, 2015 in Holy Stuff
Tags: , , , , , ,

10519497_10152475346936245_6357215499360071137_nIt’s all about forgiveness. Several years ago a good friend who lived with a terminal illness told me with both seriousness and joy, “This is the week for which we live.” He died two year later on Easter Sunday. Yes, this week is about forgiveness not simply some palm branches and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, although I enjoy both immensely. Between the Palm Sunday Parade and Easter brass the heart of our faith plays out a drama like no other. Think of it; Christmas displays part of the simply strange way God seeks to meet us, and now the Holy Week drama draws us into the oddity of Jesus’ mission. He will die a cruel, criminal’s death all for us. Yes, this Holy Week is about forgiveness, about God restoring the connection with us, about doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

A Story of Forgiveness

My son loves Legos. I do too. Although he is now 22 and nearly done with a college degree we still fulfill birthday and Christmas gifts with some sort of Lego. It is tradition and more. You see, he taught me a deep and valuable lesson of lego-1forgiveness through a Lego mishap. He was about three years old, and of course the rule was to put away toys when done with them. Easy enough. This was also the era of close to two years when his regular routine was to awaken me every day between 5 and 5:30 am. A few mornings the rising was tough but I take those days back in the twinkling of an eye. One early summer morning we made our way downstairs and sure enough, my bare heel found the sharp corner of a stray Lego piece.

I howled in pain, yet that was not the howl I regret. Restraint was lost as temper flew toward my three year old son. Voice at a fevered pitch I said things not to be repeated as the berating carried on due to the lack of clean up. Until I saw the quivering lower lip of a tender child. Silence. My parent-of-the-year nomination? Automatically revoked. What had I done? This was one of those moments the full brokenness of the human condition comes streaming down, a deluge of guilt and shame.

What happened next was the only thing I could think to do. Dropping to my knees we were soon face to face. “I’m sorry, Mat. I should not have yelled or said those things I said. I am really, really sorry.” This three year old then taught me a life-long lesson in forgiveness. Reaching out his bear-sized toddler hand, my son patted my shoulder, “It’s ok, Dad. I forgive you.”

No doubt a wall of separation came down with those simple yet life changing words. There may still be a loss of connection 19 years later if forgiveness did not happen.

This week is all about forgiveness. Dramatic portrayals of courage, betrayal, denial and abandonment arise from the players around Jesus. He goes to death for us anyway, because of us and in spite of us. This is love like no other.

May your Holy Week be whole and filled with mercy.

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