Monday, October 09, 2006

"I Forgive You"

I think we forget the power of the stories in the Bible, and I think we forget them primarily because we forget our own stories, and how they are deeply intertwined. Joseph, having been sold into slavery by his brothers, runs into them again – this time as the second-in-command for all of Egypt, the destination of his previous slave-traders. There are many things he could have done, ways he could have gotten back at his brothers.

But he chooses to be reconciled. He reveals himself to his brothers, because he cannot contain his love for them. Ralph Klein, my Old Testament professor, spent today telling his own stories, unabashedly drawing parallels between them and the Joseph narrative, powerfully reminding us that the stories in the Holy Scriptures are our stories.

In our world, stories of reconciliation over and against vengeance don’t play too well. For if we forgave those who sin against us (consequently a very Christian idea…), who could we attack? [Not to mention understanding that we ask God to forgive our sins as well.] Esau accepted his brother with open arms, the brother who stole his birthright and his blessing without giving it a second thought. Jesus finds his disciples in the Upper Room after his death, and greets them with a blessing: “Peace be with you.”

We are a people whose history is of a God who loves us – a God who reconciles us to one another. To understand this love is to, like Joseph, be unable to contain ourselves. We can only weep as we forgive one another. Joseph’s story is our story.

After telling his own stories, Dr. Klein left the classroom – and all of us – as silent and reverent as a monastery. He had told us his stories, and we sat in awe.

What amazing stories we have – those given us in the Scriptures, and those continually shared with us now, as we create our own stories of forgiveness.

What a gift.  How can we not forgive each other?



At 10:22 PM , Blogger Pastor Lori said...

Tonight, at our awesome NOBS guild meeting, someone asked if stories are good for when you're talking to another person about faith or life, or just good for worship or performance. I told her how powerful I think it is to tell a story to someone who's struggling, rather than to give them advice or a platitude. Stories allow us to come in, to experience the healing and the forgiveness, and to be shaped in the process. Amen! I am reminded of Nathan accusing David: God came to David in the story of the little lamb, to bring honesty, confession, and forgiveness.


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