Friday, April 2, 2010

Tombs for the Lliving

From the upper room of Maundy Thursday, we move to the Good Friday tomb. Here we are left. It is a place of silence and death. God does not speak. We must simply wait. There has been a promise and that is our hope. We wait.

When we don’t forgive, we are stuck in a similar kind of tomb. Our unforgiving relationship is dead and silent. It seems that God does not speak because all we can hear is our own anger and hurt. In this tomb we may not even know the hope of the promise that forgiveness offers. A relationship is dead or dying. We have withheld life as we withhold life-giving forgiveness. But in our stubbornness, it is our own life that is really being lost. Our lack of forgiveness only destroys our selves.

Our own life is lost in another way, too. We pray often that God will “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we forgive others, God forgives us. When we withhold that forgiveness, we withhold God’s forgiveness from ourselves. In our inability to forgive, we don’t see how the other deserves or has earned our forgiveness. If we think it is a matter of the offender deserving or earning our forgiveness, then we must be truthful with ourselves and admit that we can neither deserve nor earn God’s forgiveness and we must change our thinking about deserving and earning. If we withhold our forgiveness because the offender has not asked for forgiveness, we have deceived ourselves again for we just want to punish and humiliate the offender by making them ask us. God doesn’t wish to punish or humiliate us. If we say to ourselves that we refuse to forgive because the offender continues to offend, then we have to examine our enabling and get out of the situation. We make many excuses for withholding our forgiveness, but the fact is, there really is no excuse for not forgiving each other. If we think we have found a good reason, then we need to examine things more closely and see what we are really up to. Whatever it is, in some way, it probably keeps us from accepting God’s forgiveness as well as giving us a reason to hold on to our own lack of forgiveness. We have trapped ourselves in dead and dying relationships. We have put roadblocks between ourselves and God’s desire to forgive us. We leave ourselves in the tomb and keep God out.

The source of our Good Friday hope is to let God into the place of death. If we can manage to open our unforgiving hearts to God, then we can begin to see a path forward. We can begin to learn how to forgive. We can let go of death, even if it is the only thing we know. We may have been in the tomb of unforgiveness for so long that it has become comfortable and familiar. We have grown used to the cold and darkness. Today, we are invited to start letting in the life that hope and love bring. It is a threshold. It is a beginning.

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