Many years ago now, I had a wise friend teach me a lesson about forgiveness. We had gotten in a fight about something. Lord knows what now. But after days of not speaking to one another, I sought this friend out in order that I might apologize – for I was most certainly the main offending party in whatever had happened.
I’ll never forget what my friend told me that day: you were forgiven even before you asked.
If you ever want to know what God’s forgiveness looks like, well, my friends, that is it.
This season, we are focusing on the idea of The Wonders of Redeeming Love, which comes from so many of our beloved hymns, Lenten and beyond.
The most obvious is clearly Beneath the Cross of Jesus, where all of our brokenness is laid bare and yet all we ask is for the sunshine of Christ’s face as we look beyond the grave.
Then there is What Wondrous Love is This? when we reflect with haunting melody upon the incredible marvel of a God who would take upon God’s own self all that we have wrought and deserved.
And who could forget When I Survey the Wondrous Cross where love and sorrow meet, love that is amazing and divine, bidding us to die to our hurtful ways and live the life that love truly entails.
Beyond that, there is the old Appalachian hymn, Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy, when we recall that in the arms of our loving Savior there are ten thousand charms.
Or what about that old standard, Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling, which speaks of wonderful love, mercy and pardon for all of us who will just come home.
It is true that all of us have sinned and fallen short.
More important than anything else we have broken the commandments that Jesus said to hang all the law and prophets on: we have not loved our neighbors and we have not loved ourselves. In so doing we have not loved God as we should. And oh how that brokenness has wrought such a hurting world. Everywhere around us.
Yet the wonder of God’s redeeming love at work, not only during Holy Week, but also during every moment of our lives, is that Jesus still reaches out his arms and says, come home. The forgiveness is already here, waiting. Because love has already Won. It. All.
We still have a month to go before Holy Week really sets in. Nevertheless, the importance of this message is as essential now as it will be then: the wonders of God’s redeeming love are all around us, because God has already won and continues to do so, every time that love rules the day.
Blessings, Pastor Janie
Artwork: “You, Too, Must” by the Rev. Lisle Gwynn Garrity of A Sanctified Art, LLC