Let us call for a day of forgiveness patterned in part after the Ancient Jewish notion of a Year of Jubilee in which all debt was “forgiven” although this will be one day every four years (paralleling the USA election for the presidency) and it will not be about money but about family and community.
Forgiveness gives us the chance to start over, to set aside all self pity, and to have a chance to emphasize unity—on all levels: relational, family and national. If the “Day of Forgiveness” comes the Sunday after a presidential election, we can have at it, politicking passionately, but with a sincere desire for unity just afterward. (This always had been an American democratic tradition.)
Over the course of a relationship, whether in a marriage or in a friendship or within a community, mistakes are made, regrettable and hurtful things are done, some planned out, some recklessly rushed into in the heat of the moment, that strains relationships, sometimes to the breaking point. We are animals of indiscretion—as the song goes: “Everybody plays the fool, sometime.”
We all realize later after a lapse of wisdom, when we come to our senses, that what we did or said was the worse mistake of our lives. People break laws, incur fines, make financial investments that prove too risky. People are prone to say hurtful things. People live with addictions. All of us make mistakes that tend to divide us, that damage our relationships, but nonetheless, we are loved by persons who wants us back—emotionally back, back for real!
No one moves to Canada, but there is an unforgiving spirit present when we are not united; when we cannot resolve a matter, we cannot compromise, we cannot empathize. A banquet turns into just another meal and no one is hungry anyway. We win battles but the war is too costly in terms of our friendship and union. We celebrate ourselves but in the absence of those who should be celebrating with us. We make new friendships sometimes to hide the pain. But what we really need is forgiveness!
Some church congregants treat militancy and division as a righteous thing, although, by biblical definition, it is the exact opposite. A worship service without Christian unity is nothing more than an exercise in social pride that we fulfilled some commitment (which in our hearts, we did not do at all). Did you know that repentance and forgiveness is by biblical definition [Joel’s prophecy] what revival is all about and Christians are always longing for revival.
Families are sadly divided by politics and religion. Married people have affairs, children are sadly and tragically hurt, money is often misappropriated, gambled away. Any one of a number of excuses are readily available to accuse another, project blame, in our pain, on someone we used to be close to.
We need a day of forgiveness which should come every fourth year after a presidential election to erase the escalating contention of the past four years, to give families a chance to be families again, to remind couples of their wedding day and believers of the first day of a new found faith in God’s goodness. November should symbolize renewal. Let’s call for a day of forgiveness in which families and communities as well as congregations within churches may “let go” of the past and look to a more hopeful future …together.