Practicing Forgiveness

Week 1: Why Forgive?

We cannot love fully and freely if we are holding onto either resentments toward others or deep, unresolved shame. Forgiveness brings perspective and compassion, expanding our capacity to love, both as one who forgives and as one who is forgiven. Our story is the woman seeking forgiveness who washed Jesus’ feet at the house of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50). “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.”

Week 2: Forgiving Others

Misconceptions abound about forgiveness: that it is weak, that it lets others off the hook, that it promotes injustice, or that it’s a “once and done” effort. This week explores what Jesus says about true forgiveness. Our story is the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:15-35) as well as its preceding instructions from Jesus: “Tell your brother his wrong” and “Forgive 70 times 7.”

Week 3: Being Forgiven

We all hurt others at some point, whether intentionally or not. By acknowledging our mistakes and making amends to those we’ve hurt, we can experience a humbling process –one that helps us become more forgiving of others. Our story is the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

Week 4: Self-Forgiveness

Thoughts that we are not good enough, not worthy not lovable – these “stones” are falsities evil spirits throw at us. God, however, is present even in these times of terrible self-doubt reminding us that none of us is perfect: “Let the person who has never sinned throw the first stone.” The week’s story is about the Woman About To Be Attacked With Stones (John 8:1-10).

Week 5: Transformation

Forgiveness can transform the often crippling emotions of shame or anger into motivation for spiritual progress. By following God’s command to stand up and walk – to move forward – , the pain of our past may transform into compassionate, positive action. The story is about the Lord healing a paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12). “Take up your bed and walk.”

Week 6: Wrap up and Celebration

Peace and joy comes when we embrace opportunities to forgive. We reflect on our experiences during the last five weeks, and make goals looking forward.