By Pastor Wes Poole
Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven – NRSV
As we approach Father’s Day, I find myself contemplating the often fraught relationships between children and parents. I am no stranger to this personally, as my father and I never really understood one another well. Since his passing in August of ’09, I have spent a great deal of time grappling with forgiveness. Some days it’s easier than others, yet it’s always the goal. Jesus says as much in the verse above.
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday, 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. Most people just want to be understood and accepted. Fathers and Sons are certainly no different.
Of course, this is operative in most relationships, not just those of sons and fathers. In the church particularly, we are commanded by Jesus himself to make forgiveness the motivation behind all of our actions. For where there is forgiveness, judging others is far more difficult. Where there is forgiveness, condemnation has no real teeth. Forgiveness begets more forgiveness, and it becomes the very oil that smooths out the machinery of life! When we can look at a brother or sister without judgment and armed with a pocket full of forgiveness, strong new relationships are formed and ailing ones can be repaired. One of my favorite musicians, Vince Gill, once addressed an awards ceremony where bad feelings had arisen around an artist. He stood at the podium, and said this: “You know who gets blessed when you forgive? You.” Got it in one, Vince! Kindness, patience, forgiveness, unity… When we strive for these things, the blessings are always manifold. In a world all too often diametrically divided these days, may we modern day disciples of Jesus take his command seriously; modeling for the world the better way he taught us. It will make a difference!
Let us pray…
God of forgiveness and second chances, you showed us in Jesus Christ a way of life that will blessings into the world; spreading unity and concord, rather than hatred and division. Strengthen our resolve to “do unto others” in the way he taught us. All others!! We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe. I hope to see you all in church soon!
Pastor Wes Poole †