Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. – Leviticus 25:9
I don’t know what sort of statistics preachers keep up with when it comes to sermons, but one hard to miss fact for Rebekah has been how consistently interested, attentive, challenged, and responsive people are when the message is anything related to “forgiveness.”
She has preached several series of sermons on the topic, and every time, without fail, people report that they have been able to come to a place of peace – as well as being challenged in new ways, inspired to finally deal with old hurts, and prompted to seek healing.
(Here, try it! You can find the message at the 16:20 mark of the WFPC March 21 worship – “Forgiveness – an Exercise in Freedom”)
Simply put, when Rebekah preaches on forgiveness her counseling load goes up!
Forgiveness is both an imperative and a process:
This week’s message on The Disciples’ Prayer (a.k.a. The Lord’s Prayer) dealt with the phrase, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Or – related to the thoughts I shared in Saturday’s post – as we practice forgiveness for both ourselves and others, and as we humbly ask for forgiveness, we are more able to understand, to receive, and to live into the forgiveness God has for us.
This is important as – I believe – a daily opportunity, because a huge element of living in the light is an awareness of the darkness; that we do not just need redemption later, in order to “get into Heaven”, but that we need to live as consciously redeemed people today.
This is all by way of prelude to the following observation on “Covenant”, which comments on the remarkable fact of Jesus, and what he accomplished via the “Passion” we celebrate next week.
God Takes Responsibility:
Saturday morning I asked the guys if they knew the difference between a promise and a covenant. Then I asked if they knew anything about the ancient Hebrew idea of “cutting” a covenant?
Here’s the explanation. It’s kind of gruesome but I love what God does.
In Genesis 15, God makes a promise to Abram that He will give him land, descendants and blessing. When Abram wonders how he will know this for certain, God instructs him to cut various animals in half. God then passes between the pieces of the animals. Genesis 15:18 summarizes the story, “on that day God cut a covenant with Abram.”
What is implied here is that, by being the one who passes between the pieces of the sacrifice, God places the penalty of violating the covenant squarely on Himself.
We all know who it is that breaks covenant. It was the nation of Israel; it is us – it is every day. We are the faithless ones in this equation, we are the ones who stand in need of forgiveness. Yet God has said – from ancient times – “I am going to take the penalty for this on myself.”
When we both understand and acknowledge our need to experience forgiveness, we both invest in redemption ourselves and extend its benefits to those we are in relationship with.
I have to highlight a point I made earlier, and I will let this be our conclusion for today:
A huge element of living in the light is an awareness of the darkness; that we do not just need redemption later, in order to “get into Heaven”, but that we need to live as consciously redeemed people today.