Tuesday in the Third Week of Lent

by Lewis White

abstract art

Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Really, Lord? You’re always saying things like this. How do you expect me to even try to follow you if you’re going to say stupid impossible stuff? This is not rhetorical, Lord…how?!

And Jesus spoke: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to an iconic black church that held an emotionally charged service Sunday as its members, the city and the nation continued a painful healing process four days after a white gunman’s rampage left nine worshipers dead.

“Church bells tolled across the city at 10 a.m. in memory of the victims of Dylann Roof, who opened fire Wednesday night on a Bible study group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“The church’s pastor and state senator, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was among those killed Wednesday. On a sunny, steamy Sunday, his church’s service drew a packed house that featured government and community leaders from across the state. The Rev. Norvel Goff led off a fiery, engaging sermon by thanking law enforcement. ‘A lot of people expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot,’ said Goff. ‘Well, they just don’t know us. We are people of faith.’

“‘It took me a while,’ said Elizabeth Alston, 70, Emanuel’s archivist and a long-time member. ‘If somebody shot my mother, I didn’t think I could be as forgiving, but now I could. I just felt that I’ve been praying “forgive those who trespass against us” for years, and now it was time to re-examine those words and practice it.’”

Jesus stopped speaking and looked into my eyes with the most tender, unconditional love.

“You’re so world weary and negative, my child. Don’t you know I’ll help you?”