Daily Office readings for Wednesday of Proper 27: Year 2
“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain-offering and a drink-offering for the Lord, your God?” (Joel 2: 12 to 14)
The real good news about God is that God is merciful, God will forgive us. Too often we will not forgive one another, but God will forgive each of us. God will forgive you.
This forgiveness comes from God’s deep, abiding and steadfast love for us. It is a sacrificial love as expressed in our Lord Jesus going to the cross. And nothing can separate us from that divine love. Paul said, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38 and 39)
It has occurred to me then, that such a love makes it easier to forgive someone when offended. Forgiveness for children and family might come a little easier than forgiveness for friends, and certainly easier than for strangers and folks who are different from us. And there’s the rub. God, especially in Christ Jesus, is family. While not really denying his earthly mother and family he declares also that those who do the will of God are his family (Matthew 12:50). He also blurs the line between family and neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan where a stranger, a Samaritan, cares for a wounded man left for dead by robbers (Luke 10:29 to 37). And finally, as he was crucified, our Lord Jesus ask God our creator to forgive the act we were committing (Luke 23:34)
It is impossible to forgive if we don’t first love. We are asked by God to first love God and then to love one another. There is a direct connection between love and forgiveness. If you don’t want to forgive, you never wanted to love in the first place. To not love is ungodly. To change we must “return to the Lord, our God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” I don’t know about you, but I could use some of that grain-offering and a drink-offering from the Lord, our God.
Please keep up your thoughts and prayers and hopes for Ukraine.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John