Any study of the disciplines that shape Christian community eventually comes face to face with forgiveness, and Darryl Tippens, Pilgrim Heart, turns to this theme in chp. 9. I remind readers that we touched on forgiveness and memory when we looked for weeks at Miroslav Volf’s The End of Memory; Tippens gets us there once again. The theme must remain central to any understanding of the community disciplines of our faith.
The chp is called “Forgiving: The Love that Travels Farther.”
We are back to the same question: How might we learn to forgive more? Are we ready to be the genesis of forgiveness in our world?
Tippens opens up with stories of those who were about to die, at the hands treachery, but who publicly declared their forgiveness of perpetrators. “The reciprocal giving and receiving of forgiveness is one of the central features of the Christian faith, surely one of the most challenging, kenotic [self-sacrificing] dimensions of our faith” (115).
Ira Byock, a physician who spent his life caring for dying patients, said there are four things that matter most: Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. And, I love you.
“Forgiveness may be the one miracle that we can experience daily, if we are but willing to risk our pride and renounce our need to be ‘right’.”
Forgiveness begins with God; we see it visibly in contemplating the cross; it can only be comprehended in light of the last chapter of our life; and we are challenged to absolve even ourselves (self-forgiveness).
“Vengeance never settles the matter. The Gospel way can, however, end the cycle of violence…. [forgiveness] is conterintuitive and ‘against our nature’.”