The Grace of Forgiveness

forgiveness, Little church around the corner

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5: 23,24

My housekeeping the soul began with something called ‘Forgiveness Sunday’. For this Protestant making the journey to Eastern Orthodoxy this was a new practice. So I began the dusting and polishing of my soul by going to each member of the body where I worship – man, woman, and child, and saying these words while they responded with the same:

Forgive me, A Sinner.

I bowed to the ground before them, prostrating myself, taking on a posture of humility.

God Forgives, I Forgive. Blessed Lent.

For those who were deaf, we learned how to sign. And sign we did.

I did this maybe eighty to a hundred times ……

My sore legs bear the memory of this remarkable time.

I had heard of this practice for a while. But actually participating in it was indescribable. In a society that finds it hard to admit wrong, harder still to ask forgiveness for wrongs committed, we were a group prostrating before each other asking for forgiveness.

This then is a step of soul care – asking – and then receiving – forgiveness. The blessed gift and grace of forgiveness.

Can we, can I, even imagine what could be accomplished if we walked daily with a spirit of “Forgive me, A sinner”, never failing to recognize the grace of forgiveness?

Housekeeping my soul, fully aware of the Grace of forgiveness. It was, and is, a good place to start.

5 thoughts on “The Grace of Forgiveness

  1. It sounds like an incredible thing to be a part of. I was so touched when in Fiji, our connect group washed each other’s feet and asked forgiveness from each other. I could barely hold back the tears, it was very intimate and personal, even though I didn’t feel as though there was anything that came between us. When there was rift in our church and our pastors left very much hurt, I suggested (without knowing of the severe offense and hurt behind their departure) that we could wash their feet and ask their forgiveness so that they could move to another church with a clean slate, I was told it would not be received well by them. Knowing what I knew later, I always wondered what would have happened they had allowed it and received it, how things might have been different.


  2. I have always struggled with this verse.
    I’ve find it interesting that the verse says “has something againts you” it is ambiguous as to who is at “fault”, nor does it say the person who is to leave the gift and be reconciled is owning to any guilt, just that there is a break in the relationship.

    I find it is almost always interpreted that the person leaving their gift is at fault, and is to ask for forgiveness. Which is nice in theory, but often hurt is not intentional, often unrecognised, and therefore unlikely to be asked for. (I guess that’s what is implied by “remember”). I’ve always interpreted this as a two way process – it is the break in the relationship that is in need of mending, rather than focusing on the guilty making the first move towards reconciliation.

    Sometimes the forgivness needs to be offered internally, othertimes the issue needs to be brought to the attention of the one who caused it.

    But I’ve found that in seeking reconsiliation, pointing out the issue beween us is rarely met with a heart open to the fact that they have hurt me, and therfore are unwilling to ask for forgiveness. It makes taking the risk of seeking that person out not always worth it.
    Forgiveness is not easy, but it also doesn’t always lead to reconsiliation.

    So how do I then come back to God to “offer my gift” if there is no reconciliation?


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