At my church, King Ave Methodist Church I have joined a few weeks long seminar called The Way of Forgiveness. The book we are reading is The Way Of Forgiveness, the Participant's Book written by Marjorie J. Thompson.
This class involves readings, bible readings, and introspection exercises and journal. It is run by our Pastor and I am loving the class! wow, its great.
Insights so far:
Identity is important
"In order to receive and offer reconciliation, we need to be able to claim a self whose very identity lies in God, a self which we know can neither be given away or stolen." - Roberta C. Bondi
No matter what mistakes we have made in the past, there needs to be a reset button. A way to start over. All that God asks is that we are honest. When I do something wrong and I am awake enough to notice my wrong doing, I seem to have trouble letting it go. I do not think God wants this. We are going to make mistakes. I think the key is to learn from it. At the root of being able to forgive ourselves is to have an identity rooted in being a child of God. No matter what crime we commit, mercy is always available for us.
We don't know the half of it!
Our guilt, over things we have done is only part of the story. Many things we have done wrong, we haven't even noticed. I think about how we are all part of a system that hurts others constantly and yet as long as we don't directly cause it, we are off the hook? No way! One of the things that made Martin Luther so brave as to fight the establishment, is that he felt he would be judged on what he did on earth. He didn't think as we think, that if we are asleep or if we do it as a community that we'll be off the hook for wrong doings. If we believed we would be punished for buying Nike's made by slave like conditions we'd be more urgent about correcting that wrong. I do think that in modern times, we believe we'll be let off the hook for wrong doings that we remain most unconscious about. This helps us sleep and serves to perpetuate the wrong doings.
Anger has a purpose
If you meditate on this enough or if you read the book, its clear that anger must have a purpose. Even Jesus is angry. The key is channelling the anger into something constructive. We must master our anger. Jesus used his anger to bring truth to others in the form of sermons. He brought righteousness through words. He told the truth. What he didn't do is sin. "Be angry but do not sin" says the book.
Most of my thoughts over last week were about the purpose of anger. Why do I have to deal with anger. A lot of what I'm angry about is often misguided. I have noticed that sometimes others can make me angry and then control my actions. I guess it all comes down to the fact that anger is something to master, to aspire to master, a force to be channeled for the common good. Of course, that is tricky.