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Summary: The primary act of faith is forgiving. It is the characteristic act of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. We are called to imitate Jesus. Forgiving is not easy. I do not pretend to do it well, nor does anyone else I know! Yet we must.

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In Jesus Holy Name May 20, 2007

Text: Luke 4:11 Easter VI - Redeemer

“Forgiving: An Act of Faith.”

5th in the Series: “Prayer: Connecting to Our Father”

(read text)

Jesus did not start a church, at least not in the sense of people who assemble on Sunday morning to hear a man preach and then gather on the side walk to talk about the weather and baseball scores. Jesus called twelve men to learn his words; “to practice making the words reality”. He sent them out to talk. Whenever people practiced His words the “kingdom of God” grew like a mustard tree, like a seed sown in good soil.

We make “his kingdom come” as we “do his will, on earth.”

“The primary act of faith is forgiving. It is the characteristic act of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. If we follow him in faith, it is the first thing we do in our following. It is the one thing we do in faith which we would not do if we had no faith. Forgiving is what we do if we want to put meaning and purpose back into our lives.” (Seventy Times Seven - Robert Hoyer)

The act of forgiving involves words between people. It is not private like prayer or giving to the poor. Forgiving is not a moral act done in obedience to a law or custom. Forgiving is an act of faith. I forgive, when I forgive, because I can….. not because I must.

It is not easy. I do not pretend to do it well. Nor does anyone else I know! I have experienced the forgiveness of Jesus. I have heard his words. When I forgive, my world and emotions experience peace. If I don’t forgive…then anger, and bitterness will fill my soul. Happiness will elude me…. The same is true for you.

Cain did not forgive his brother. God warned him; saying, “…if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:6,7)

Cain invited his brother out into the field…and there “rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.” God spoke again and asked Cain where his brother was. Can, who could not forgive …. Justified himself and said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God banished Cain from his crops, his family, and he became a wandering nomad.

Jesus invites us to listen to his words. He invites us to speak words of forgiveness to others, for they are words that will create “the kingdom of heaven” where grace is at work.

The story of Ruby Bridges and her prayers.

(From Christianity Today August 9, 1985 by Robert Coles)

When a federal judge ordered four little black girls to go into a white New Orleans elementary schools, you would have thought that the Devil himself had arrived in that old cosmopolitan port city. Fear and anger erupted into the street scenes and demonstrations.

Robert Coles a Harvard psychiatrist who was there wrote: Outside the Frantz School I saw a mob of people standing and screaming. It was two o’clock in the afternoon, and I realized they were waiting for something. I asked one of the people what was happening.

He answered, “She’s coming out in a half an hour.”

I said, “Who’s she?”

And then I heard all the language about who she was… all the cuss words and the foul language. I decided to stay and watch.

Soon, out the Frantz school came a little girl, Ruby Bridges. And beside her were federal marshals. She came out and the people started in. They called her this and that. They brandished their fists. They told her she was going to die and they were going to kill her. I waited when she left in a car, and I wondered who was going to come out of that school next. But then I found out no one else was in the school. The school had been totally boycotted by the white population. So here was a little black child who was going to an American elementary school all by herself in the fall of 1960. That is part of our American history.

With the help of Kenneth Clark, a black psychologist in New York and Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP the legal fund attorney I was able to establish contact with the Ruby and her family.

(Here’s the rest of the story)

My wife and I, (wrote Robert Coles) went to the home of Ruby Bridges, knowing the family was under tremendous stress.

“How are you doing, Ruby?” I would say to Ruby twice a week, and she would say, “I’m okay.”

“Mrs. Bridges, how is Ruby doing?”

“She’s doing fine.”

“Mrs. Bridges, is ruby sleeping okay?”

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