I’m mulling over my first sermon at the moment.
Despite some flailing on my part which saw me scrabbling around the Old Testament – misinterpreting Jewish history and generally making a hash of things, I have somehow decided to speak on forgiveness. It was the original idea, suggested by my wise mother, and, post-flail, things have sort of come around full circle.
‘Now you have your idea, just let it mull over in your head over the next week – that’s the best thing to do’, my dad says. So I did and I am, and am feeling stuck this morning.
Stuck because last night was quite uncomfortable and I have that residual feeling of regret, sadness and resentment buried beneath the sleepy fuzz of lazy-Saturday.
My friend was horrible to someone I love, and I feel hurt. I didn’t pray with my eyes open, didn’t stop to think that love does not anger easily, is not easily offended, and never fails. Didn’t pause to see how the God-colours could be drawn out of the dark. I flailed around with my eyes shut, probably drank too much and spoke about my friend’s behaviour in a mightily unloving way that I probably won’t quote verbatim in my sermon.
And is it any wonder this morning that I feel hollow and in need of forgiveness, as well as a nagging need to forgive.
As I shuffled off in my melancholy cape to the shops to buy nice things for breakfast to fill my mental cavern I asked God to forgive me, and to help me to bring everything honestly back to Him however bad I felt about the way my friend had behaved and the way I had behaved.
It was good to pray but I didn’t feel anything particularly earth-shattering, nor an indelible peace settle in my spirit causing me to soar on wings like eagles. But as I stood at the check out I smiled at the lady behind the till, in the spirit of praying and loving with eyes open.
And at that moment it flashed on the screen behind her where it would soon say I owed seven pounds: ‘Your operator today is Grace’. I looked back at Grace and hugged her wildly in my head.
As I turned and walked back onto the street I felt like I’d been reminded of a secret by my beautiful heavenly Father. My M.O. is grace because my forgiveness story is one of amazing grace. And this grace sets me free. Forgiveness is freedom, but my freedom cannot be hoarded.
As Nelson Mandela said, ‘I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities’. I know the beginning and end of my forgiveness story, but I have a responsibility to paint this murky middle part with God-colours. And to do that I must invite others into the story.
Oh Lord, have mercy on me.
So today I choose to forgive in the operational power of grace, and in doing so pray with eyes wide open that my friend will come to know the steps to his dance in the greater forgiveness story.
Now on with the sermon….