Forgiveness and understanding

This came up in a group the other day. The client was struggling to forgive but decided they needed the answer to the “why” before they could. Other clients noted the same thing.

We sometimes do need to know the why before we can forgive, but is it the healthy way? I’m not perfect, sometimes I need to understand before I can move on. But I am trying to change that. Why? Because forgiveness is healthy and if something is preventing health, we should seek to remove it. Sometimes, our need to understand the why something has occurred prevents us from moving on by forgiving.

Don’t get me wrong. Forgiveness and forgetfulness are two different things.

I think about my mother who struggled with alcoholism until her death due to her alcoholism. I struggled for many years to understand why she had done that. It ate me up. When I did, I struggled to understand and come to terms with the way I had treated her as well as all of the years I had spent not forgiving her.

Another way I look at it, is that sometimes we have built up a wall so high, and so deep that we cannot possibly understand. It is during these moments that we do have to forgive in order to break down that wall so that we may finally come to understand.

I think about the verse… He loved us while we were yet sinners.

Can we forgive first before we have to know the why?

Closing of Advent

Advent – a season of penance, expectation, and exile – draws to a close only to be met with the punctuation of the divine interaction into human history.

I like the song O Holy Night for this reason and in particular, these lines:

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Judging the stories I hear daily, we are not the best students. Perhaps this coming year will be different, will be somewhat better.

IS the WCA Violating It’s Own Principles?

I, as well as many others, have pointed to the United Methodist Church Judicial Council rulings in criticism of the various caucus groups, especially Reconciling Ministries, encouraging entire churches and congregations to join them. The ruling in question is 871 and the digest reads “A local church or any of its organizational units may not identify or label itself as an unofficial body or movement. Such identification or labeling is divisive and makes the local church subject to the possibility of being in conflict with the Discipline and doctrines of The United Methodist Church. The ruling of Bishop Alfred J. Norris is reversed.” ( Now, to be fair, I can not find anything in their beliefs that says they are bound by the UMC Book of Discipline, so they are not breaking their internal rules, but they are breaking the rules of the UMC, their primary recruiting ground, as are the local congregations that are choosing to become a part of the WCA. I can only help but wonder how many of them know that they are breaking the rules. So that we are clear, there is nothing that would prohibit individuals from joining any group, just local churches and their organizational groups. (Annual Conferences too, but that is a separate ruling) 

The question then is that if the WCA is allowing and encouraging congregations to join, then aren’t they, in that specific respect, working against the church and it’s teachings by encouraging congregations to break the rules? Many in the WCA have asked these very same questions about RMN, as have I, so it seems fair to ask them now as well. For my part, because I have asked these questions for the groups I disagree with theologically, it is vitally important that, for my own internal consistency and in my attempts to avoid hypocrisy, I ask them now. So, put simply, if it is wrong that groups like RMN allow congregational membership in defiance of the Judicial Council, then it should be equally wrong the the WCA does. If pastors who have led their congregations to become Reconciling Congregations have broken the covenant by breaking the rules, then pastors who do the same for the WCA are the same, are they not? If the Bishops that have allowed. and support, RMN in doing this are guilty of not living up to their responsibilities, then the Bishops allowing and supporting the WCA are just as guilty are they not? If you are a pastor and member of the WCA, can you in good conscience, be a part of an organization the encourages congregations to break rules? If you are laity and a member, can you? 

I want a vibrant Wesleyan Christianity just as the WCA does. That is why I am asking the questions and being critical. A vibrant Wesleyan faith can not start with the same tactics that a few short years ago were decried as covenant breaking. The solution is not to become that which we have argued against, but to be better. Integrity and character matter and if the foundations are built upon the hypocritical use of the same tactics and rule breaking that we have collectively opposed, then whatever is put on top of it will fall. There is really only one question that needs to be asked, and answered, by those involved at the end of the day. Is the abyss staring back?