I've been doing a series on forgiveness to start out this year with my church. I've talked what forgiveness is, why we should forgive, praying for forgiveness and of course Christ's sacrifice to forgive. One thing I have not addressed, but am going to this Sunday is forgiveness within the context of a church community. I came across these powerful words penned by Henry Nouwen:
"When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too.
The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.
It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer."
(The picture is Rembrant's depiction of the return of the Prodigal Son)