Today's choices have lasting consequences
March 16, 2011 - Over one hundred years ago, a church raised funds to have stain glass windows installed in the sanctuary.
Families could dedicate the windows they paid for in honor or memory of a loved one. The campaign was successful and the windows are still there today.
However, those windows tell a painful story. The largest of the windows are in a prominent place in the sanctuary and the names of a family are listed in memory.
In the back of the sanctuary, around the corner and hidden on the side of a rarely used stairway is a small stained glass window. The names of that family are rarely seen.
The back story is two of the families of the church at that time were in conflict with each other. One of the families had a member who was chair of the stain glass window campaign committee. It was this person who decided where windows would be placed.
The chair made sure their family window was prominent in the sanctuary and the window of the family they were in conflict with was placed in the obscure stair well.
Our inability to get along and forgive has lasting consequences. Our pride often leads us to believe we are justified in our unforgiving behavior to those who have wronged us.
What we miss is our unwillingness to forgive comes from the same arrogance others have when they think they have or had the right to hurt us.
We have all made mistakes. We have all hurt others and been hurt.
Sometimes those actions are unintended and we are unaware of those we have hurt.
Sometimes we have acted out of a desire to cause others pain.
Jesus taught his disciples must humble themselves. It is what Jesus did when we was willing to take the hurts and sins of the world.
Humility comes from the power of love. It is that same love that builds the foundation for forgiveness and reconciliation.
Who in your life still needs your forgiveness? Whose forgiveness do you still seek?
In a world of hate filled rhetoric causing isolation and distrust, you can always find those who will encourage condemnation over forgiveness.
Look where such attitude is taking us?
The Lord's Prayer calls us to say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Seeking forgiveness is directly tied to forgiving others. Every time I pray that prayer, I am find myself on either end of the equation. Usually I need to be forgiven and forgive at the same time.
It is time for us all to hear two very clear truths. We are forgiven. If no one else will tell you this, God does.
The other truth that must come from our hearts is the forgiveness we give others. When we share this, freedom and real joy is made possible for all.
The Rev. Richard L. Dake is pastor of Clarkston United Methodist Church