Every Wednesday I am constantly amazed by the depth of questions and the yearning to learn more when we gather for WOW. It is a constant reminder for me why I fell in love with studying and learning about the subject of religion and theology.
It was about a year ago that I was getting ready to go drive to Atlanta for a youth workers conference. I was not looking forward to the long drive all by myself. Someone recommended to listen to an audio book or podcasts, it would make the trip go by quicker. I ended up listening to a sermon given by Marcus Borg at the Calvary Lenten Preaching Series a few years ago. Well this lead to about 6 straight hours of sermons, all of which were amazing.
This past Wednesday, we looked at the Gospel text from look about the Crucifixion (Luke 23:32-43).
If you aren't rushing to get your Bible or Googling that text right now, I will give you a brief paraphrasing of what happens. So Jesus is on the cross, the people are saying, Come on, if you really are the Sonf of God, save yourself! One of the two criminals next to Jesus, says, Yea, and if you save yourself, save us too! The second criminal is like, Naw, leave him alone, he is innocent. We are guilty. Jesus then says, " Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." And they skip happily through the pearly gates hand in hand...something like that. (I still recommend that you read the actual scripture.
So, on my drive to Atlanta, I listened to a sermon by The Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood. And I will tell you one thing, he was not happy about this scripture. Really!? This criminal! This thief! After all this time of robbing people, and who knows what else, he has been caught. He is being punished for his crime. Finally, justice! But this guy, Jesus, takes him. Hand in hand and walks with him through the pearly gates...Oh come on! the Rev. goes on and on about his anger towards this single act. It is not fair, he can live his whole life perfectly and still not get that kind of treatment. It just wasn't fair. So, he wants answers! Where do you go for answers? You pretend to visit the people of the Old Testament to get their views and thoughts on this act, naturally.
So The Rev. Youngblood goes back in time to talk to Abraham. (from here on out, he refers to himself simple as Youngblood, so I will do the same) So, Youngblood thinks that everyone is going to be equally frustrated with what happened. Abraham, lets him down. Really, Youngblood? Look at my life, i was by no means perfect. I could be considered a screw up. But I had faith.
Dissappointed, he moves on. Moses, ha, that upsets you? Look at me. I helped the enslavement of my own people for the longest time. I stutter. Orphaned. I was forgiven.
So, as Jesus was on the cross, dying. He forgave the man who was dying next to him.
This weeks challenge...forgiveness. Forgive others, forgive yourself.