Then Peter asked Jesus, “Lord if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy times seven times. – Matthew 18: 21-22
And Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8: 12
I have shared, in last Sunday’s sermon the story of the antique Arts & Crafts, hand hammered copper, mica shade, lamp that is now sitting on my church desk. For those of you who did not hear the story, that lamp disappeared off my desk in a congregation I served several years ago as Interim Senior Pastor. It was a congregation that was tough on Ministers and was fraught with difficulties and breaches of trust. I wondered where the lamp went at the time, but was so relieved to wrap up that challenging call that I forgot about it- until three weeks ago- when a woman from that congregation IM’d me with a photo and said “I think this lamp I found in the back of the church closet when I was cleaning belongs to you.” Sure enough, it did. And much to my surprise, she wanted to make arrangements to come to my house and bring it back to me.
We greeted each other like old friends, and she sat the lamp down on my dining room table. It was beat up and didn’t work anymore, but we had a lovely, healing conversation for nearly three hours. I shared with her that when that call had ended 7 years ago, I had done a significant amount of therapy and spiritual direction work around my bruising experiences and was able to move into my next calling (at UCH) as a more integrated, better Minister. I shared with her that although it was painful, I had come to a place where I was grateful to the congregation for all the things I had learned.
A couple days later, I cleaned the lamp up, patched the punctured shade, rewired, and repaired it. And something happened inside me when I finished the wiring and pulled the chain. Light filled the room, and joy and tears welled up in me. I felt my Spirit lighten and as I sat there sipping my tea, with tears streaming down my face, looking at that soft golden light, I felt deeply grateful.
Forgiveness is a mysterious thing. We hold trauma in our bodies. And sometimes when we forgive others and ourselves, we have to let go of things in layers. We might even think we are done with the forgiveness process, and don’t even know another layer is there. Maybe that is why Jesus said what he did to Peter about forgiving “seventy times seven” times. Sometimes there are that many layers of trauma trapped in us and we have to let them go one by one so the light can return to us again.
As your Minister, I believe God and the Universe will conspire to find very surprising ways to support us in this Holy transformative work. It is my prayer in coming days that you will experience forgiveness and release in your Spirit in the ways that you need, and that whatever light you have lost along your way will find its way home to you. Much Love, Rev. Jeanne
My gratitude to Marcia Lovelace for returning my light.