john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK




    Forgiveness

    Blue Coat School 09/11/2002

    David was walking on air. He'd just seen Sarah, Sarah who for such a long time he'd been avoiding, Sarah who he knew he'd hurt so badly, made so angry, Sarah to whom he'd owed such a great apology that it had taken him months to face up to it and do something about it.

    He'd finally decided to confront her; to face her and say that he was sorry for what he'd done.

    This made him feel very vulnerable, disarmed, exposed, powerless, deciding to confess all to her when she might just throw it all back in his face, reject him, laugh at him, kick out against him and leave him begging.

    But he'd plucked up the courage to see her, and now he was walking on air because she hadn't rejected him. She'd heard what he had to say for himself. She accepted his apologies, she forgave him, she let him know that as far as she was concerned they were friends again. It was ok.

    There is great power in forgiveness. Power for good and power for bad. It is carried by the person who is in a position to choose whether or not to forgive another.

    Sarah had taken that power in her hands and chosen to open them up, release forgiveness into her relationship with David. The consequence: a very real freedom and renewal they both experienced.

    The next person David saw was the last person he expected. Because Phil had been avoiding David for weeks. Phil owed David, big-style. Phil couldn't afford to repay David; they both knew that. David had made it clear through the grapevine that if Phil didn't pay up, he'd be dead meat. And here he was, standing in front of him. And what was he saying? He was begging forgiveness.

    David clenched his fists in anger. He wasn't listening to Phil's attempts to buy some time, to ask David to understand his position. After a short time David had heard enough; he grabbed Phil by his jacket collar and spat the words into his face: ³Look, you owe me and I've put off doing anything about it for too long. If you don't sort it out for me by this time tomorrow you'll be seeing me again, I promise you and there will be payback.²

    There is great power in forgiveness. Power for good and power for bad. It is carried by the person who is in a position to choose whether or not to forgive another.

    Phil had seen that power in David's hands and plucked up the courage to appeal to his mercy. But David kept the power to himself, quietly enjoyed making Phil squirm. Kept those fists of his tightly shut against any form of reconciliation. The consequence: bad blood. Nothing positive achieved for either person.

    There is great power in forgiveness. As in our lives, so on the world stage today. Power clutched to itself becomes a tyranny; power given away empowers and enables others.


    Final sentence taken from Briony Martin: The Power of God: A Mother's View, in CCJ journal Common Ground, 2002/2

    This subject is further expounded in my sermon, 15/09/02: Matthew 18 - the power of forgiveness.