Pastor John Barnette
“I trust you.” Three little words that have quite the impact. Three little words that most people are careful to use. For the most part, one must earn trust. A person must keep their promises, demonstrating that he or she has integrity before gaining another person’s trust. She must prove to be honest, upright, true to her word. He must say what he means and mean what he says.
We all need someone who we call “my person.” He or she, whether a friend, family member, or spouse, is the one person who can be trusted whole-heartedly. This person is the one with whom you celebrate good news. This person is the one to whom you vent about the cashier who shortchanged you at the store. This person is the one you call when life falls apart because you know they will keep your confidence and help you put the pieces back together.
However, trust is fragile; it can easily be broken. Now I’m fully aware that even the most trustworthy friend slips up every now and then. They forget a lunch date or overlook something important on occasion. But, for the most part, their track record is solid. Sure, our trust in them might get a little bruised every now and then, but for the most part, we can forgive the occasional mishap and our relationship with them heals and remains strong.
But, what about when trust is completely shattered? What happens when the offense is so bad that trust cannot be restored? It’s a hard question for a Christian. We are often told to forgive and forgive often, which is true. Forgiveness is an important part of our faith. However, what I feel we often don’t take into consideration is what happens after forgiveness.
When we forgive someone, we are giving up our right to retribution as well as cutting both parties free from the past. Through forgiveness, a new start has been created at which point both parties ask, “Where do we go from here?”
At this point, you can decide to seek reconciliation and give the relationship another shot. However, at this point the option to part ways amicably in the spirit of goodwill, is also on the table.
Sometimes the latter option is the only option.
If the relationship is toxic and trust cannot be restored, the relationship is hindered from maturing and both persons are at risk of failing to grow and mature. In this case, it is okay to release the relationship. You can go your way and let the other person go their way. Forgiveness has now allowed the opportunity for each person to be free of distrust, which holds one in the past as he or she questions everything that takes place based on past offenses. Now you and the other person are free to make new, healthy relationships that offer the benefits that healthy relationships bring, such as support, encouragement, and reliability.
Yes. We are to forgive, and we are to forgive often. Forgiveness, though, does not necessarily mean we are to remain in toxic, harmful relationships. Forgiveness may be a means of opening a door that allows each person to move forward in their own direction, free from a past that was detrimental to growth and development. Sometimes, all we can do is say, “I forgive you. Now, may God bless you and keep you as you go.” And sometimes, that’s enough. Amen.
Blessings, Pastor John
Pastor Ken Ewing
We are fast approaching the Season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It is a time of reflection and preparation in the anticipation of celebrating Easter. It also a time of remembering Jesus in the wilderness: a time of withdrawal and sacrifice in preparing to do God’s will.
Last week, Joe asked me, as I entered the Sanctuary, “what are you going to do for Lent?” In past years, when asked that question, my response would have been what I had planned to give up during Lent. In asking the question, “what are you going to do for Lent?”, my response was different. I told Joe and in a few moments later the congregation that I had been struggling with that question. My response was to say that I would Do something that would help me respond to God’s call to love and care for others rather than sacrifice something that did not really matter or lead me to make appropriate preparations to celebrate Easter.
In my response to making preparations, I was reminded of “failed” attempts in the past. My dad, a Baptist minister, said he was going to give up cooked carrots for Lent. Big deal, he did not like cooked carrots in the first place. Another “big deal” that fell flat was the time my colleague and I decided to give up caffeine for Lent. We were hard to live with for at least three days negating our intentions to make good preparations for Easter.
This Lenten Season I will not give up something, but rather Do something that would not only help me reflect on God’s will, but would also impart God’s love on others.
At the heart of the Christian faith is the call to love and serve others thus serving God, in other words it is TO DO. I am not saying making sacrifices is not important, rather I am advocating for making an intentional response in loving, kindness maybe a good way of making preparations and reflecting on the importance of Easter.
For me this Lenten Season will be one of doing, reflecting on God’s call to loving service. In preparing to celebrate God’s grace at Easter, I choose to Do something for others. Even during a pandemic there are ways of showing God’s love. I can write thank you notes to family and friends, including important “thank you”s to folks that serve us. I can contribute to funds for those that serve us at South Port Square, pay for the person behind me in the fast food lane, keep in touch with folks on Zoom. I will continue to share my sense of humor with others, hopefully making their day a little brighter.
These are just few suggestions you may consider, or come up with some of your own. Doing good deeds to gain reward or a word of gratitude, is not what I will be about, rather to serve God. Such will be my time of reflecting on how I should respond to God grace, and make preparations to celebrate Easter. Amen.
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