During the second half of the spring term, we explore the value of FORGIVENESS. During worship, in class and in our relationships with each other, we learn together and share experiences about this most important value.
Spring 2 Forgiveness
The Parable of the Lost Son/The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32 New International Version
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Key Bible verses
The experience of forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian gospel. It is a forgiveness won by Christ's work on the cross which Christians believe is where God's love and justice meet. The need for forgiveness is universal, because every one in some way shares in the guilt of messing up their own lives, the lives of others or the generous gift of this world to us by God. We need to feel pardoned and there is a longing to start again with a clean sheet. The experience of being forgiven through the mysterious work of the cross is the motivation to love and change that energises Christians to live differently and better. God promises the gift of his Holy Spirit to help them do just that.
Jesus says in the Lord's Prayer:
'Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others' (Matthew 6:12, CEV).
David asks God to forgive him:
'After David had everyone counted, he felt guilty and told the Lord, "What I did was stupid
and terribly wrong. Lord, please forgive me"' (2 Samuel 24:10).
In Matthew 18 comes the question from Peter about how often we can go on forgiving, and Jesus tells a story to illustrate what he means:
'How many times should I forgive someone who does something wrong to me? Is seven times enough?' (Matthew 18:21).
Jesus forgave the soldiers from the cross:
'Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes' (Luke 23:34).
The Jews celebrate a great day of forgiveness, the Day of Atonement, usually in September.
'You must celebrate this day each year- it is the Great Day of Forgiveness for all the sins of the people of Israel. Moses did exactly as the Lord had commanded' (Leviticus 16:34).
'On the tenth day of the seventh month, which is also the Great Day of Forgiveness, trumpets are to be blown everywhere in the land' (Leviticus 25:9).
Key themes to explore:
• Saying sorry and being repentant
• Showing remorse and making amends
• Forgiving and forgetting
• Letting someone off - is that fair?
• Repairing a broken relationship/friendship
• Barriers to forgiving another
• The cost of forgiveness
• Is there a limit to forgiveness?
• Forgiveness and justice
• The fruit of forgiveness
Quotes about forgiveness
"Without forgiveness, there's no future." Desmond Tutu
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Mahatma Ghandi
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. Mark Twain