Do you find it difficult to forgive? If you do, it is no wonder, since forgiveness is not a fair or just process. You have been hurt and then, to add insult to injury, Jesus asks us to let go of our justified resentment and anger! In the scripture passage for this week Jesus admits this is difficult work. He tells the disciples that the process to forgive might seem as hard as working in the field all day and then coming home only to have to wait on the tables. But when we don’t forgive we only do further harm to ourselves. As witty Christian writer Anne Lamott says, “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.”
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. Quiet yourself. Become more aware of God’s presence. Open yourself to the love of Jesus as you read or hear the following passage.
Luke 17:1-10 (Note: verses 1-10 have been included to provide context.)
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! 2 It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, “I repent”, you must forgive.’5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6 The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you. 7 ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? 8 Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!”’
Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence and then turn to another person and discuss.
- Take a moment and think about someone or something you need to forgive. Perhaps it is a close friend or family member or it might even be someone you barely know, such as a political leader or the driver in another car. This process can be very painful and so you might want to start with something small. Without sharing the specifics of your personal situation, reflect together on the questions below.
- Does forgiveness mean you condoned the bad behaviour?
- Does forgiveness mean forgetting?
- Does forgiveness mean you go back to where you were in the relationship? (HINT: The answer to 2., 3., and 4. is “No.”)
- If the answer to 2., 3. and 4. is “No” then what does it mean to forgive?
- (Private question for personal reflection.) Is there anyone in your church community you need to forgive?
Bring the discussion to a close and invite people to sit quietly in prayer for a moment. Ask them to place themselves in the presence of Jesus and ask him to give them the strength to forgive.
Conclude by saying together…
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. (Pause for a moment)
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Word has been known in your time together.