From the Pastor's desk

 

With the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany behind us our focus in the church turns to Lent.  Committees have been busy planning Sunday worship services, Wednesday night meals, programs, and worship. All this planning and knowing that Lent begins early this year (Feb. 14 Ash Wednesday) has me thinking about some of the themes of Lent, specifically repentance and forgiveness.

God calls us to repent daily, and offers us grace and forgiveness. But there is more.

We tend to think of repentance as feeling guilty; however, in Greek repentance is really a “change of mind or direction”––seeing things from a different perspective. Jesus said, “…repent and believe in the good news” ––repentance starts with the new vision rather than a feeling of guilt and that leads to believe in Christ’s good news.

That said, the past few weeks have found me thinking a lot about forgiveness. I even explored some continuing education events on forgiveness that caused me to stumble upon a patient handout provided by the University of Wisconsin, Department of Integrative Medicine.1

The handout states: “Scientific research has indicated that forgiving past wrongs can be helpful for a variety of health problems, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain. When we focus on forgiving, our blood pressure drops and our heart rate slows down. Our mood improves. Forgiveness can alter the state of our health.”

The following are a few thoughts on forgiveness based on the work of Dr. Robert Enright and Dr. Fred Luskin. (You may find the entire handout by clicking the link at the end of this article.)

  • Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. In fact, you have to remember and acknowledge negative emotions and events before forgiveness can occur.
  • Forgiveness is NOT pardoning, excusing, or saying that something will be treated as acceptable behavior in the future.
  • Forgiveness is, first and foremost, done for the person doing the forgiving.
  • Forgiveness can take a lot of time and hard work.

Jesus knew the power of forgiveness and as God’s chosen we are called to forgive.

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Knowing that we live in the shadow of sin we should repent, forgive, and live in the amazing grace of God.

                                                                   Pastor Tom Hillertz

 

1Healing Through Forgiveness (University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine and Public Health,   www.fammed.wisc.edu/files/webfm-uploads/documents/outreach/im/handout_forgiveness.pdf )