This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Rev. Dr. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.
In A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World, author Ron Lee Davis tells the story of a guilt-ridden priest living and serving in the Philippines. Though he was greatly loved by the people of his parish, the man carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before.
He had repented, but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness.
In his parish was a woman who deeply loved God and claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, however, was skeptical. To test her, he said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed.
A few days later the priest asked, “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?”
“Yes, he did,” she replied.
“And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?”
“Well, what did he say?”
“He said, ‘I don’t remember.”
At first, the priest thought she was conveniently putting words in Jesus’ mouth, and then he remembered God’s promise: I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43: 25).
What God forgives God forgets!
Like a convicted felon, everyone has a rap sheet. Guilty, says the judge. But, in our faith, our savior Jesus takes on our sins and wipes our record clean.
Our great confessional prayer agrees: Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
The prayer continues: We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.
The prophet Micah reveals the character of God as slow to anger and quick to forgive: You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
What God forgives God forgets.
As you prepare your mind for worship this Sunday, please read Psalm 32:1-7 and Luke 19:1-10. Both readings display humanity’s rap sheet, confession of sin, and God’s mercy to forgive and wash away sin’s stain.
By the way, one of the most powerful incentives for generosity is forgiveness. As you prepare for Stewardship Sunday this week, read the story of Zaccheus in Luke 19:1-10 and see if you agree.
Just a sinner saved by grace,
Pastor Ray Hylton