Forgiving Others

A sermon in our continuing series on the Apostles’ Creed. The story about Father Chacour is taken from Jones’ book Embodying Forgiveness. I have followed Jones in some of what follows. Also, I have built upon insights taken from Paul Wadell’ book on friendship – one chapter of which is dedicated to the question of forgiveness.

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I believe in the forgiveness of sins. 

You might have thought the forgiveness of sins would be included in the first section of the creed – after all, it is God who forgives our sin.

Or you might have thought the forgiveness of sins would be included in the second section of the creed – after all, it is through Jesus that our sins are forgiven.

But no – we only arrive at the forgiveness of sins in the third section of the creed. We confess our belief in the forgiveness of sins with the same breath that we confess our faith in the Holy Spirit – the one who forms us the church, who binds us together in one Body.

The fact that the forgiveness of sins is found in the third section reminds us that forgiveness is bound up with our identity as the church. Because God forgives, we as the church know forgiveness – we bear witness to God’s forgiving love. Even more, however, the church is a community in which we extend forgiveness to each other.  

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Forgiveness of sins

A sermon preached in a continuing series on the Apostles’ Creed.

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Well, once again this morning I find myself in an unenviable position – here I stand, with about fifteen to twenty minutes to explore the forgiveness of sins. That’s our topic for today. Of course, I’ve got no one to blame but myself. It was my choice to preach through the Apostles’ Creed and there’s no backing out now. 

You could say that I feel this morning like someone who has been asked to explain in a few words the music of Oscar Peterson, that great Montreal Jazz artist. How, in a few words, could anyone capture the musical ability, the keyboard dexterity, the emotional range of that great pianist and composer? How could words ever come close to capturing the essence of great music since by definition music belongs to a different realm than that of words? Ultimately, the great music of Oscar Peterson isn’t something to be explained or talked about, it is something to be listened to, experienced.

The same thing goes when it comes to forgiveness. Words about forgiveness, explanations of forgiveness, can only dance around the subject – words will never get us as close to forgiveness as we really need to get. The truth is that you can only understand forgiveness and know forgiveness from within the experience of forgiveness. Like the amazing music of Oscar Peterson, perhaps, forgiveness isn’t something that can ultimately be explained – forgiveness must be lived, must get a grip on our lives.

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