Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey —
It is almost time for the John Dear weekend. We have been planning this for almost a year and it is now here! There is still time to register!!!
This past Sunday we dedicated our new Prayer Partners for another year of service to our community with their prayer consciousness. Under the leadership of Barbara Kowalska, those in service are Jaclyn Ashla, Jack Cole, Bonnie Grover, Hilary Hayes, Mimo Otis and Carolyn Sanford. We are so blessed and grateful for these dedicated individuals.
The message on Sunday continued with Fr. John Dear’s book Walking the Way: Following Jesus on the Lenten Journey of Gospel Nonviolence to the Cross and Resurrection. The focus was on forgiveness. The Bible has many forgiveness stories, but the most remembered is Peter’s when he asks Jesus how often does he need to forgive. He threw out a number that I am sure he thought was very generous when he said in Matt 18:21…”Should I forgive my brother seven times?” and Jesus’ reply must have been a little hard to hear: “Not seven times, but seventy times seven times.”
One only can imagine how many times Jesus faced opportunities to forgive in any given day. Dear says: “But it is the way of Jesus: unconditional forgiveness, morning, noon, and night – letting go of every trace of rejection, hurt, wounding, and bitterness.”
Dear goes on to say: “He blessed and forgave everyone who hurt him, so he remained in a spirit of equanimity as he endured constant rejection and hostility. He healed and liberated all those he met, and when people rejected him or hurt him, he forgave and moved on. His daily practice of forgiveness and peaceableness became as natural as breathing to him. When he was crucified and losing his ability to breathe, he gathered strength to forgive even his killers. Forgiveness was his personal practice… Anyone who dares to walk in the footsteps of the nonviolent Jesus learns to forgive those who reject us.”
Additionally, let us look at Unity’s perspective on forgiveness. Early Unity writer Mae Oesch says this: “Practicing the gentle art of forgiveness is vital to our well-being. Forgiveness is as practical as elementary arithmetic. It is both an art and a science that follows an infallible law.
“The term to forgive means ‘to give for,’ to give good in return for what seems evil, to restore right relationships between ourselves and others and between ourselves and God. True forgiveness is a flooding of God’s love into our hearts, so that we feel no malice. Jesus stressed the point that in order to receive forgiveness, we must keep the channel open by always being ready and willing to forgive.”
New Thought writer Emmet Fox gives us the how to — how to practice unconditional forgiveness. The technique of forgiveness is simple enough, and not very difficult to manage when you understand how.
The only thing that is essential is WILLINGNESS to forgive. Provided you desire to forgive the offender, the greater part of the work is already done.
The method of forgiving is this:
- Get by yourself and become quiet.
- Repeat any prayer or treatment that appeals to you, or read a chapter of the Bible.
- Then quietly say, “I fully and freely forgive X (mention the name of the offender); I loose him and let him go. I completely forgive the whole business in question. As far as I am concerned, it is finished forever. I cast the burden of resentment upon the Christ within me. He is free now, and I am free too. I wish him well in every phase of his life. That incident is finished. The Christ Trust has set us both free. I’d thank God.
- Then get up and go about your business. On no account repeat this act of forgiveness, because you have once and for all, and to do it a second time would be tacitly to repudiate your own work.
It behooves each one of us to practice general forgiveness every day as a matter of course. When you say your daily prayers, issue a general amnesty, forgiving everyone who may have injured you in any way, and on no account particularize.
Simply say: “I freely forgive everyone.” Then in the course of the day, should the thought of grievance or resentment come up, bless the offender briefly and dismiss the thought. The result of this policy will be that very soon you will find yourself cleared of all resentment and condemnation, and the effect upon your happiness, your bodily health, and your general life will be nothing less than revolutionary.
Next Sunday Fr. John Dear will be speaking at the 10 a.m. service, and his topic is “Jesus and the Way, the Truth and the Life of Nonviolence.” Following lunch will be his workshop, the Beatitudes of Peace. This is a great time to bring family and friends to experience Unity of Greater Portland.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey