Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).

The forecast for snow made me think a lot about passages like Isaiah 1:18, where God promises to purify us white as snow - possible only through God’s forgiveness. Interestingly, forgiveness was a central point of discussion this week as I was working on a peacemaking task force at a congregation within my denomination. The Lord’s prayer teaches us to ask for forgiveness — “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” There is a cost associated with forgiveness and it cannot be conditional. Once you forgive someone, you have fulfilled the debt. Forgiveness also involves a community within a discipleship context. Chris Brauns writes in his book, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, “Christ’s way of unpacking forgiveness is not three easy steps. It is a way of life, following Jesus, learning from him, being involved in his church, hearing his Word preached. Apart from consistent involvement in these disciplines, you are trying to paddle with a stick. And that just won’t work.” Without understanding the Good News of Jesus Christ by which complete forgiveness was made possible, we will not be able to forgive. Although forgiveness can be freely offered, Brauns asserts that forgiveness must also be received. It is only when forgiveness is offered and received, true reconciliation takes place. Let us reflect on forgiveness and reconciliation this week and ask the Holy Spirit to move within our church and make us a people reconciled with God and one another.

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