“I Wonder as I Wander” by Whitbourn: Carolae-Music for Christmas
Prepare to Forgive
Advent reminds us of the new world order ushered in by Christ. The arrogant will be humbled; the humbled will be exalted. God’s presence in a manger resets our preconceived notions about who God is and what He demands of our lives. No longer controlled by fear and guilt, we see God’s love in weakness and vulnerability.
Dear Lord, we forget that you demonstrate strength in weakness and humility. Show us how to enter the paths of peace by laying down our entitlement and embracing the way of love, forgiveness, and grace.
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Isa. 2:3-5
I recently spent a day reflecting on the Lord’s prayer at a Franciscan retreat center overlooking the Rocky Mountains. Friar Dan focused our attention on the meaning of each phrase. I was captivated by his interpretation of Forgive Us Our Trespasses. “We forgive those who trespass against us,” he said, “because God’s people deserve to live in peace.” At the time I was struggling with letting go of a hurt that was consuming me. I was justified in my pain and I replayed the event over and over, but the outcome was always the same—I felt victimized and misunderstood. I was also powerless to change the memory or to redress the wrong. I had a right to be angry, yet, in light of the invitation to “forgive and receive peace,” I surrendered the hurt. The floodgates opened as I left the pain with Jesus and experienced relief for the first time in months.
We are taught to fight for our rights and stand up for ourselves. The David and Goliath scenario appeals to our sense of justice and self-righteousness. Yet the way of peace, at times lies in the opposite direction: “lay down your weapons; beat your swords into plowshares.” Just as God, the creator of the universe, became part of creation, we are called to humble ourselves under the hand of God so that He may exalt us. This is grace. It is not what is deserved, but what is given in love. It is only grace that enables us to let go of pain and leave it in God’s hands, knowing that ultimate justice lies with Him. How different the world would be if our leaders were to practice grace and mercy in their pursuit of justice. “We forgive because God’s people deserve to live in peace.”
Points to Ponder
- How would it feel to let go of an injustice done against you? What would it take to make that happen?
- Are there those who hold a grudge against you? What would it mean to have them extend grace and mercy to you rather than anger?
- God gave up heaven’s throne to redeem us. How does that approach contrast with what you see around you? How can you extend grace to those around you?
O Lord we are tempted to demand our rights and to seek justice before we let go of our hurts. Give us the strength to live a life of grace and forgiveness. Just as you laid aside the splendor of heaven to be born in a manger, help us to live in humility and reconciliation.