Sunday, May 22, 2016

Father Forgive Them...

Three days before Senator Hubert Humphrey’s death. He received a visit from the founder of the Rainbow Coalition, Jesse Jackson. As the two men visited, the distinguished and ever-popular Minnesota Senator confided to his guest: “At such a time like this, you are forced to grapple with that which is really important. And what I have concluded about life is that when all is said and done, we must forgive each other, redeem each other, and move on.”
Following the former Vice President’s death, I joined a vast audience of American citizens and global community of admirers in watching our national leaders memorialize Senator Hubert Humphrey. Many who saw that service, watched quite unaware of the visit that had taken place between these two men a short time before.

Many observers filled with wonder as they questioned why Humphrey’s former political adversary, Richard Nixon, had occupied the special place of honor and was seated beside Muriel, Humphrey’s widow. Here were two successful men of high political standing, but each man approached his political problem-solving quite differently; each from a vastly different direction, and with very different results.

In spite of their conflicting socio-political differences, Mr. Humphrey had prearranged for Mr. Nixon to fill the special seat of honor next to Muriel Humphrey, his widow. When all was said and done, Hubert H. Humphrey desired more than anything else that people understand that he forgave his former political foe.

It was on his own cross that Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34, RSV). The timing of this unique statement makes the words of Jesus among the most important words he ever uttered. Forgiving others holds a very high priority on the teaching agenda left to us through the life and ministry of Jesus.

It is a well-known truth that we live in a very imperfect world. This is primarily true because our world is filled with such imperfect people. As a common consequence of our imperfections, we frequently find ourselves in fractured and hostile relationships that remain badly in need of repair, and some even result in destructive wars.

Broken relationships can become genocidal wars pitting nation against nation, involving whole regions, and at times our whole global community. We live in a broken world that regularly needs mending. Friends, families, and even nations need often reconciliation and restoration of relationships. Whenever such occasions arise, forgiveness becomes a uniquely rare and special gift that not everyone can give. Participants may be a friends or enemies (Matthew 6:12) and may include family members, whole communities, and whole races of people. Such experiences can be potentially life changing, socially and spiritually transforming, as well as peace producing.

When someone experiences the cross of Christ as an experienced reality, their relationship with God becomes something of a musical keyboard in which God serves as the Master Conductor of the Symphony being played out in the life of a particular person, family, or community. As his sensitive fingers sweep across the keyboard of people’s lives, his fingertips skillfully transform the cacophony of sounds that people experience and transforms them into a symphony of peace and joy.

The Master’s touch lifts us upward toward a new level of spontaneity and vibrant living in what might otherwise be a joyless world. This Ode to Joy created by The Master’s skills lifts our discipleship journey ever upward. His Presence reveals new levels of discernment and discovery and identifies healthy and wholesome relationships in what might otherwise remain a fatally fractured global community.

Howard Loewen describes this new discipleship as “a particular, authentic representation of God’s people.”  Beginning with individual people, whole nations can be transformed.  Without this experience of forgiveness, which we all need at some time or other, few of us individually or nationally have any hope of ever recovering the common humanity we share under our Creator.

Without this representation of God’s people, we remain a global community filled with endless wars and rumors of war, forever in search of peace

... I am

No comments: