21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?"
22 Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
23-27 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
28-30 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, 'Pay what you owe.' Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
31-34 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.
35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
Thoughts from John: Sometimes I read this story and start to think God is vindictive and short on patience. Sometimes I read this story and think God keeps records of my wrongs, demanding an even ledger before grace is given.
I don’t think this is how God wants me to read this story. It’s too literal for mystery and Spirit to have room to work.
So what if the point is that forgiveness is an essential part of healthy relationships and healthy community? What if forgiveness, like relationships, requires mutuality and reciprocity in order to do its real work? What if, in order for the gift of forgiveness to have any real impact on us, we have to know what it’s like to be the one doing the forgiving?
And perhaps it is in this dance that we come to understand the God of the Universe who is quick to give grace when we ask.
Outward Mindset Application
Compliment a co-worker each day this week!
Pathways Toward Centeredness
Enthusiasm (Loving God in Mystery and Enthusiasm):
Does anyone in your life deserve some celebration this week? Find a way to throw a mini-party in their honor.
Questions for Reflection
What has been the most significant experience of forgiveness you have received? What is the most significant experience of forgiveness you have extended?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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