In preparation for Ash Wednesday and Lent members of the LABC community were invited to reflect on the words of Jesus as recorded in Luke 11:4 (New Revised Standard Version), “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” Each Friday I will share one of the responses with you. I find them to be very meaningful and I trust that you will as well.
Grace and Peace,
Experiencing forgiveness and forgiving others are inseparable. They are interconnected. It’s not that God withholds forgiveness until we forgive another and then forgives us as a reward. In his prayer, Jesus says that forgiveness and forgiving others go together, indeed that our relationship with others and our relationship with God can’t be separated.
One of the defining images of the Vietnam war was that of a crying nine-year-old girl who had suffered a napalm attack, her clothes being burned off of her. In a interview on the PBS Newshour this past January, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, now 49, tells of her life experience, of the years of daily suffering, her 17 surgeries, and the “hatred, bitterness, and anger” she lived with. In a remarkable statement in the interview she says, “In 1982, I wanted to take my life, because I thought, after I die, no more suffer, no more pain. Eventually, I found the New Testament in the library in Saigon. In Christmas, 1982, I became a Christian. That faith, it helped me a lot. Since I have faith, my enemies list became my prayer list. I realized myself, wow, Kim, you pray for your enemies? This means you love. Forgiveness set my heart free. I forgive everyone who caused my suffering, even the pilot, commander, people controlling me.”
The outcome of this forgiveness has been a life of service, about which she says, “All my journey, I help children, building school, building hospital, orphanage home. It’s about relationship. Now I’m working, not because of my duty, not because of my mission, but because of my love.”Dale Edmondson