A People of Forgiveness
In the Coelho household over the past weeks we have been watching the TV show, "Halt and Catch Fire."* It is not a super popular show, but we like it. One of the reasons I enjoy the show is that it is about quite ordinary people. Much like "FridayNight Lights" before it the drama comes from human situations and relationships that are similar to much of what we've all experienced. The show is reminder that the drama, even the drama of God's redemption of all things, is played out in the everyday spaces and struggles we all recognize.
One of my favorite scenes in the show involves one character asking another's forgiveness. It is a moment of grace, hope, and beauty, in the middle of all sorts of competition and conflict. It is a taste of grace in a broken world.
Last week our sermon focussed on the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, while our Gospel reading was Matthew 18:21-35. These two passages are linked in a profound way. In the later part of Genesis 4 a descendant of Cain, Lamech, boasts of not simply seeking vengeance seven times but seventy-seven times. His boast is a picture of the deepening brokenness of God’s creation and the fall of human beings as image bearers.
This same language of seven and seventy-seven is picked up in Peter’s exchange with Jesus in Matthew 18. Instead of vengeance however, the topic is forgiveness. Where the world is marked by cycles of retribution and violence, the disciples of Jesus are called to participate in God’s renewal of all things through the practice of forgiveness. In doing this the disciples are co-laborers in rolling back the curse of sin and violence in the world. As we think about our role as participants in God’s restoration, following Jesus on the way of the cross, forgiveness is a fundamental aspect of this participation. When we forgive as Christ has forgiven us we are contributing to God’s shalom in the world.
As we practice forgiveness, living out of the abundant grace we have known in Christ, we are playing a part of reversing the curse in this broken world. The refusal to perpetuate cycles of vengeance and offense is a fundamental part of our calling as the church, as people participating in God’s renewal of all things. Practices like confession, thanksgiving, and generosity help to shape and prepare us for this Gospel work. In light of God’s grace, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, may we at COTC be a people of forgiveness in all things.
Ps. The concept of reconciliation is related to that of forgiveness. We have the opportunity this Sunday is grow into our calling as ministers of reconciliation with a “Lunch and Learn” on the topic of “The Gospel and Race”, please sign up here and join me in praying for this time together.
*"Halt and Catch Fire" airs on the cable channel AMC. As you can imagine there's some scenes that involve adult language and content. Also, if you're going to watch it you might as well skip the entire first season, just read a synopsis on wikipedia, it's terrible, but then it gets good.