4-17-15 - Proclaiming Forgiveness

If Jesus’ words to his gathered disciples on the evening of the day of resurrection are to be attended, his assurances of peace came with a charge: to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations.

“…and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’” (This week's Gospel passage is here.)

In today's church, there can be resistance to focusing on repentance and forgiveness – too much cultural guilt associated with the idea of sin. So we may not want to begin our proclamation there. But it’s not hard to get there once the conversation is started. People in recovery from addiction understand innately the need to repent; others of us need only look at our behavior in relationships to quickly arrive at the same understanding. To understand that we are capable of hurting ourselves and others AND to grasp that a remedy has been provided is freedom indeed. That is the gift we have to share.

The promise of life in Christ goes way beyond a focus on repentance to healing and wholeness in every sphere. The balancing act we maintain as witnesses of this source of healing is to keep repentance in the picture while making room for the rest of the story of our of life in Christ.

Can you think of a time when you felt set free by the promise of forgiveness, whether that came from a person or from God? Can you imagine leading another person to that place of relief and freedom?
Today, you might reflect on those moments of connection in your life, and then think about who you might be called to bear witness with.

That proclamation began in Jerusalem on Easter night. A few weeks later, it began to spread around the region and then to the ends of the earth. If we bear witness to freedom in God’s love, it will continue to spread until everyone has been drawn into Christ’s saving embrace and the need for repentance is over.

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