My daughter Amy is about to become a solo intern at her church out in California. Her supervising pastor is taking a new call in Minnesota. And halfway through her internship, Amy is stepping into a new role. As readers of this blog know, Amy is also blogging (an independent decision–we didn’t know we were each blogging), and her entry for today is profoundly moving.
She writes of what happens to a church when someone follows God’s call faithfully:http://hopeinternamy.blogspot.com/ and her experience in this transition that God is making all things new.
Paul writes, in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything new!
The parable we’ll hear on Sunday, the story of the man with two sons, which we fondly call The Prodigal Son, this parable is a story of being made new. The power that makes all things new in this parable is the power of forgiveness.
Two people, father and son, desire reconciliation. The son seeks a restored relationship; the father forgives and welcomes his son. It’s one of those great love stories, those happy endings: music plays, lots of food, everyone falls into each other’s arms. Even the reluctant elder brother becomes part of the dance of reconciliation. He won’t come into the party, so the father, in mercy and generosity, goes out to him, finds him, and pleads with or implores him to understand.
What makes a future possible where relationships have been tried, tested or broken? between each other? between us and God?
From the large things to the small things in our individual and communal lives, forgiveness opens a way to new relationship. It makes a future possible. Without forgiveness, we stay bound to the hurt, to the brokenness. And if you’ve ever really forgiven another person, or if you have been offered forgiveness, by another, whether by a human being, or by God, you know it feels like healing. You know it feels like coming home. It restores what psychologists call “the interpersonal bridge.” But with Christ, forgiveness restores much more–our whole life, our entire existence is restored, even the broken creation is restored; there’s a cosmic dimension to it. Instead of being held back by bonds of sin, hurt and distress, we’re set free. Divine forgiveness releases us into the arms of a loving God. We’re move with freedom into an open future.
Of course, anyone reading this blog probably is a religious person and has thought about forgiveness. Much of what I said is a repetition of what we hear and read in the Gospel. We all know forgiveness is at the heart of Christian life. I was just happy to be reminded in the parable, once again, that forgiveness and being made new go hand-in-hand.