[Each day of Holy Week, I am going to publish a communion meditation that I wrote and delivered, while serving as an Elder, over the past seven years where I worship at Northwood Christian Church, in Springfield, Oregon.]
Table of Forgiveness–Written for the First Anniversary of 9/11 2001
This week we will commemorate the terrible events of September 11th one year ago. I would like to offer a perspective on what it means to be a Christian and to come to this table as we remember those who perished, those who were left behind, and those who gave so much to rescue and protect the survivors.
My illustration comes not from Ground Zero in New York, but from a newscast in the Palestinian city of Jenin after the Israeli troops occupying it earlier this summer had left. The reporter was interviewing a group of Palestinians standing on the rubble of what was once their homes. What caught my attention, however, was the hand-lettered banner tacked onto a wall, written in English, undoubtedly for the benefit of the American and British TV cameras.
The banner read,
“We will never forget.
We will never forgive.”
The words stunned me. It is one thing to never forget. Our brains are designed to remember things, after all (finding the TV remote notwithstanding). To choose not to forgive, however, is another thing altogether. To make that choice is a decision that will only lead to vengeance and violence, to accept whatever Evil places before you, to justify any act with any means. There is no justice, only the burning for revenge.
And that is exactly the opposite-the opposite-of what coming to this table stands for. We come not because we deserve to be here; we come because, above all, we are the forgiven, invited to join our host, the One who gave His life for our sins. Each week as we gather to take communion, we gather around this table of forgiveness.
Jesus said, “This, do in remembrance of me.” That is our banner so we will never forget his sacrifice. But also, as our Lord forgave those who executed him upon a Roman cross, we are also to always remember His example to forgive those who persecute us. When we make the decision to forgive, we open our lives to God’s justice, to defend and protect those who are oppressed and downtrodden. In this, our hearts burn not for revenge but for peace.
This is the table of remembrance and forgiveness. It has been given to us to remember that first, we are the forgiven.
Photo Credit: Ask.com, 9/11 2006
September 8, 2002