The Rev Heather Macdonald
March 2002

This time next month is Easter. And for the Church the time before Easter is a time of preparation – a time to seek deep inside ourselves and to make our peace with one another and with God. A big part of this making peace is to do with repentance and forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a word that doesn’t seem very popular these days. More often than not we hear people calling for retribution and vengeance. ‘They did this to me – therefore I have to retaliate’. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – which may be all well and good if one is an optician or a dentist but doesn’t do much for the rest of us. We look around in our society and there are many people who look tired and unhappy – who are involved in unhealthy behaviours – who have low self esteem. Quite often these things are the result of lack of forgiveness of other people, of oneself or of God.

One can carry around great millstones of this type for years – constantly weighing them down. It can eat away inside causing all sorts of unhealthiness. What can one do about it? In the words of the old children’s hymn – we can ‘take it the Lord in prayer’. Mainline churches offer individual confession [not the confessional box] where one can come in absolute confidence and deal with the issue. One can work through the issue with another person or by oneself. However one chooses to deal with it – I urge you to deal with it. Seeking forgiveness and wholeness is a whole lot better than seeking revenge. Revenge has no peace and more often than not escalates a situation.

When Peter asks Jesus how many times should I forgive someone [including myself] – is 7 times enough? Jesus answers, ‘Not seven times but seventy-seven times [Matt 18:21-22]. An indication that forgiveness is an ongoing action that we need to do for our own wholeness, peace and well-being [shalom].

Happy Easter and may God be with you

Rev Heather Macdonald
[St Philips Anglican Church]