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Forgiveness

Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

“Somewhere else in The Elder Statesman, Lord Claverton observes that no one confesses where there is no hope of forgiveness.” – Capon

It was one of those mornings. You know, the one with three kids, two of whom are dragging their feet to get ready for the walk to school. My begging and pleading was getting old and so was their concurrent whining. As I watched my seven-year-old struggle to tie his shoe and listened to my eldest whimper about his itchy scarf, the damn broke: “Damn it!”

I squatted down, grabbed the shoelaces and the foot attached to them and growled, “You’re…

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Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

Unless it has been replaced, the men’s room mirror at Manning’s Cafe in Minneapolis is a little worse for wear. Not broken, but scratched and pitted, and midway across the bottom the words are indelibly scrawled, “Forgive Yourself.” No telling who wrote it or how long ago, even less what they meant. Was it a pep talk from a weary (and likely inebriated) soul to his own downtrodden self? An encouragement to others? I know a former seminarian (no few have closed down Mannings at 2 am) who was observed, on occasion, to absolve half the room–did someone take offense? Whatever the intent, the message…

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Barefoot and Scrubbing for Love

Barefoot and Scrubbing for Love

This one comes to us from our friend, Rebecca Graber. 

Recently I watched the movie Barefoot on Netflix. It’s a classic odd couple movie; the leading male, Jay, is a womanizing, gambling, down-on-his-luck scoundrel who’s on probation, scrubbing floors at a mental hospital. His counterpart, Daisy, is a new resident who does not know why she is there, and as we find out, has not really had contact with the outside world. Her social skills and experiences are equivalent to a five-year-old girl. In need of money from his wealthy family and through a series of events, Jay ends up taking…

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Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

This reflection on one of the newest in the 30 for 30 catalog, comes from Mockingfriend Paul Harris.

It is needless to say that ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has repeatedly brought to screen some glorious glimpses into the human heart.  The Four Falls of Buffalo, now streaming on Netflix, is no exception. Place this movie on the top of your must see list!

You may remember the Buffalo Bills losing streak of four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Sadly, The Bills, especially the 1990-96 rosters were and often remain synonymous with failure. Players like quarterback Jim Kelly, star running back Thurman…

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No Wholeness Outside Our Reciprocal Humanity

No Wholeness Outside Our Reciprocal Humanity

The American justice and penal systems may be hot topics today, but it isn’t the only reason that Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy became a New York Times bestseller in 2014. As the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative he’s certainly earned his room to speak about oppressive justice and the death penalty and mass incarceration. But he is also compelling as a storyteller—he is not simply interested in the facts and figures justifying prison reform. He is also intertwined in individual lives of prisoners; their stories play a huge role in his own coming-of-age.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, Just…

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Previewing The Revenant: Justice vs. Mercy on the Western Frontier

Previewing The Revenant: Justice vs. Mercy on the Western Frontier

This one comes to us from Julian Brooks:

The other night while binge watching some Hulu, I came across a preview for the upcoming movie, The Revenant. When I saw that both Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are in the film, I thought it might be another Christopher Nolan masterpiece. The Batman Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar are all on my list of favorite movies, so needless to say, I was excited.

As it turns out, the movie is in fact directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman), but if the trailer is any indication, The Revenant is still not one to miss.

The cinematography…

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With This Ring, I am Dead

With This Ring, I am Dead

I remember one day soon after we married, my husband came home to the apartment I had cleaned and buffed into sparkly brilliance like the new ring on my hand. He didn’t notice, so I had to tell him: “I cleaned the whole apartment! The shower grout too! With a toothbrush!” His smile was friendly, but it didn’t reach his eyes, which were darting about as if looking for an escape route. I think he mentioned something about this not being a prison? And that I didn’t have to go to such lengths? Which maybe would have been a relief…

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Hopelessly Devoted: First Timothy Chapter Two Verses Five and Six

This morning’s devotion comes to us from the Rev. Jim Munroe. 

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as the ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6, ESV)

In 1492, there were two prominent families in Ireland, the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds. They were in the midst of a bitter feud.

James_Butler,_1st_Duke_of_Ormonde_by_William_WissingSir James Butler and his followers took refuge in the chapter house of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. They bolted themselves in, seeking protection from Gerald Fitzgerald and his men.

As the siege wore on, Fitzgerald had a change of heart. Here were two families, living in the same country, worshipping the same God, in the same church, trying to kill each other. So Fitzgerald called to Butler, inviting him to unbolt the door and come out. Butler, understandably wary of treachery, refused.

So Fitzgerald seized his spear, cut away a hole in the door large enough for his hand, and then thrust his entire arm through the hole. Fitzgerald’s arm, extending into the chapter house, was completely vulnerable, totally undefended, and utterly available for being chopped off.

James Butler grasped Gerald Fitzgerald’s hand with his own and then opened the door. The two men embraced, and the feud was ended. Thus was born the expression, “Chancing the arm.”

That door and that hole still exist today. You can go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and see that evidence of chancing the arm.

But you don’t have to go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to be encountered by the one who chanced his arm for you. For you, and whatever feuds you face with whatever enemies stand behind your door, that arm through the door is the arm of Jesus Christ. Chanced for you, his arm through the door bears on its hand the scar of a nail hole. It is offered to you, barricaded inside all of your own inner-chapter houses.

Hopelessly Devoted: Second Corinthians Chapter Five Verses Seventeen through Twenty One

Today’s page from the Devotional comes to us from Justin Holcomb. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away; the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, ESV)

Paul here talks about the reconciled becoming reconcilers. God reconciles Paul to Himself through Christ and, second, He gives Paul the ministry of reconciliation. Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the noun “reconciliation” and verb “to reconcile.” Reconcile means “to bring back to friendship after estrangement, to harmonize.” The picture is to re-establish an original peace that once existed. In Paul’s writings, God is always the reconciler. The initiative is God’s, who changes a relationship of enmity to one of friendship, and this is accomplished through Christ, through his death on the cross.

The recipient, he then says, is the world. This means that reconciliation is comprehensive and all-encompassing. God’s reconciliation is done in forgiveness—by not “counting against us” the amount of a debt we owe. Like late charges on a credit card for which we are legally responsible, God doesn’t post the debts to our account that should rightfully be ours. This is because Christ so closely identified with the plight of humanity that their sin became his.

This is our great hope—that Christ’s death took the consequences of our sins, that his perfect life is attributed to our account, that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more, that where we are weak, God is strong. This is what it means to be an ambassador of Christ, simply and honestly communicating our weakness, helping others with the pressure they feel to display to the world their infinite and paltry successes. If it’s already covered, and the account is settled, why are we wasting so much time and energy displaying our self-righteousness? Why not boast in weakness?

Including That One: The Absolution of a Halitosis Hater

Including That One: The Absolution of a Halitosis Hater

A stop-you-in-your-tracks story of grace from the first chapter of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, involving her dealings with a rather hapless newcomer to House of All Sinner and Saints. There are a lot of wonderful stories in the book, but this may be my favorite, for no other reason than the mundanity of the infraction. So true to life! Anyway, those who were at the NYC conference in April may recognize the episode. I read it at a class the other night and we all had ourselves a good cry. Posted with permission:

I never…

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Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Empathy for the Deserving: The Morgellons Dilemma

Leslie Jamison’s book of essays, called The Empathy Exams, has a lot to say to about the reaches (and limits) of human love and compassion in their modern expression. The second essay in the collection, called “Devil’s Bait,” is about a group of sufferers who share a rare, controversial illness called Morgellons Disease. With Morgellons, strange fibers grow beneath the skin, causing the sensation that the skin is crawling. The term is formication—the sensation of crawling insects under the skin.

It is a controversial disease, though, because it has no known medical cause and no known medical cure. While it remains…

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Forgiveness in Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels

Forgiveness in Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels

This week I’ve waded deep into the world of Patrick Melrose. He’s from the upper crust in Britain, and if his world of ten thousand dollar weekend splurges in NYC and posh dinner parties in the English countryside aren’t quite applicable to my life, the pressure he feels to interpret and weave together his threads of experience into a meaningful story (and an ugly form of self-absorption that only serves to breed dread and guilt) most definitely are.

Edward St. Aubyn’s acclaimed series of novels pick up with Patrick at the age of five and carries him through an abusive relationship…

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