Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,Psalm 25:5-6
for they are from everlasting.
Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
Advent may seem like an odd time to focus on forgiveness. Let’s face it, when it comes down to us forgiving others we’d prefer to never focus on it. When it’s a case of others forgiving us, they should be merciful and forgive us, after all we really didn’t mean it (whatever sin “it” is that we committed). God’s forgiveness of our sins, however, seems to be a completely different story. We fully expect God’s forgiveness, we need it, it is absolutely necessary to our very lives. In addition, God promises to cleanse us from our sin, our perversion, our criminal hearts.
We are in the season of Advent, a time to prepare for the coming of the Christ ,the King of kings. We celebrate that God comes to dwell with us and that he will come again in glory to finally bring the need of forgiveness to a complete end, once and for all. The Good News is, at its core, the news of forgiveness. When God forgives you, he frees you. The sin that holds you in bondage to the lies of the evil one, the sin that requires your separation from God (which is death), the sin that breaks your relationship with God and with people is the very sin that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection removes from you. The gift of Christ is the gift of forgiveness.
Jay Rochelle wrote an introduction to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Spiritual Care. Rochelle writes, “The word of forgiveness comes to those who live life to the fullest and deepest, who engage in struggle at the extremes. Those who hate and those who love, those who desire order and those who live with chaos, those who weep and those who rejoice, those who celebrate and those who refuse to celebrate: these are some who are ready for the life in God proffered by forgiveness.”
He continues, “Forgiveness offers us the actuality of new life through Christ. Forgiveness is a declaration event by which the barrier between the human and a saving knowledge of God is broken. Christ is the actor in who this barrier is broken…”
The gift of Christ is the gift of forgiveness and of eternal life. For the sake of Jesus Christ, God forgives all who are penitent. This is the gift that comes wrapped in swaddling clothes. This is the gift that we mourn on Good Friday and sing praises to on Easter morning. We live and have hope in this gift. This gift is given to us for the sake of Jesus Christ, the gift himself, and it is given through us for those who have trespassed against us.
Happy Advent, Merry Christmas, you are forgiven, thanks be to God! Pastor Becky