Summary: Can we heal? Or are we already?

Concordia Lutheran Church

Lent 5, Wednesday, March 24, 2010

By His Stripes: Healing Wounded Relationships

Forgiveness and Absolution

† IHS †

May you realize the incredible grace of God our Father, paid for by Christ’s suffering and death, convince you that He has cleansed you from all sin and unrighteousness. And trusting in His word and deed, may you rejoice in His love and peace!

The Excuses

As we have dealt with the negative behaviors that weaken and even destroy relationships, we have mentioned tonight’s theme as the pathway towards healing. For most of us, the journey seems difficult, at least to begin to undertake.

It requires us to do something that to be honest, many of us fear. It means we have to responsibly acknowledge that we can sin against others, and that we have been sinned against.

Perhaps its because we live in a society that seems fascinated with get what is ours, or defending that which others would try to take from us. Dr. Sonnenberg, in the materials notes that we are a state where for every 120 people there is one practicing lawyer.

Great examples of avoiding responsibility are seen in the various excuses people give, to show that they are not at fault in car accidents. Here are a few.

"The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end."

"The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him."

"An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished."

"I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way."

"Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I haven't got."

"I did not think the train ran on those lines anymore."

"I had been learning to drive with power steering. I turned the wheel to what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the opposite way."

Undoubtedly this one was his favorite.

"I was on the way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident."

Not sure I want to find out what that one meant.

Theses are funny stories, sure, but how many times, trying to avoid responsibility, have we said or written similar things? We avoid saying it’s our fault, or we try to minimize the damage by including words like “because of”, or “but, if they,”. Likewise, we minimalize the pain others cause us, when we say, “Oh, it’s nothing,” or “Well I can take it”, and somehow attempt to ignore the pain and the division.

The Need

Now while most of us wouldn’t mind not being found at fault for an accident or perhaps a speeding ticket, most people bear very heavy burdens that they were not meant to bear. How much stress, how much illness is caused by our pasts? Unable to face the challenges of dealing with things on our own, we repress the pain.

It doesn’t matter if the pain is caused by someone else, or whether it is our own guilt and shame. It weighs down on us.

Recently, I asked a bunch of pople which is harder – to forgive and give up the right to revenge and justice, or to accept forgiveness and give up dwelling in guilt and shame. The answer of course is yes – they are opposite sides of the same coin, and far too often we would rather repress the sins for years and decades.

Dr. Sonnenberg cites an interesting program, put on in a non-denominational church in the Midwest.

Not too long ago, LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations and based in Edmond, Oklahoma, set up as a forum for people to confess anonymously on the Internet. Some of the confessions have included:

Someone who was molested years ago by her baby-sitter and is guilt ridden by the fact that she failed to protect her younger siblings from the same abuse.

An unhappy father, businessman and churchgoer confessed he is having a sexual relationship with another man in his church.

A young woman confessed shooting an abusive boyfriend when she was high on methamphetamines.

The LifeChurch founder, the Rev. Craig Groeschel, said that after 16 years in the ministry he knew that the smiles and eager handshakes that greeted him each week often masked a lot of pain. But the accounts of anguish and guilt that have poured into have stunned him, Rev. Groeschel said, and affirmed his belief in the need for confession.

Interesting, a non-denominational church determining what that we need to confess our sins. The apostle James spoke of it long ago.

16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16 (MSG)

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