2020 Lenten Retreat – Section 1

Discussion on Forgiveness

We are told to forgive, we say, “I am sorry” when we make a mistake and we are also taught that God forgives our mistakes or sins when we ask for forgiveness. But what does it mean to forgive?

Let us look at Tommy and Jaimie. They are siblings. They got a box of chocolate as a gift for Christmas. Of course both of them love chocolate (who doesn’t?) and immediately started fighting over which type of chocolate each one wanted. Mom told them to quit fighting and share what they had. After a few days, Jaimie, the younger of the two started throwing a tantrum over an empty box of chocolates. Well on investigation the culprit was found to be Tommy. Mom had a “conversation” with Tommy. He was in time out and when he had got over thinking about his mistake he was made to apologize to Jaimie with a promise to give a bigger share to Jaimie next time they had a dessert. The deal was done.  However, Jaimie couldn’t take it. She felt hurt. She kept thinking that no one was going to give them the same box of chocolates in the near future. They were expensive chocolates. What if the next time they had dessert it was something she didn’t like. She was deprived of the opportunity to enjoy those chocolates. This thought kept brewing in her head. The more she thought about it the more she felt her need to take revenge was justified. So she came up with a plan. When Tommy took a break from doing homework she sneaked into his room and poured water on to his homework and left their cat in the room to make it seem as though the cat had spilled Tommy’s bottle of water.  

Discussion Questions

  • Who is right and who is wrong in this story, Jaimie or Tommy? (Wait for the students to respond.) 
  • Was Jaimie right to have spilled water on Tommy’s homework? Why?
  • How can we change the story to have a happy ending?  
    • Answer: If Tommy hadn’t eaten all the chocolates, of course. 
  • We could still make the story have a happy ending even after Tommy ate the chocolates. How?
    • Answer – If Jaimie had actually forgiven her brother.

For each one of us, forgiveness “happens” in two ways:

  1. We get forgiveness (are forgiven) from(by) someone else when we ask for forgiveness.
  2. We forgive someone else when they have wronged or hurt us. Not all hurts are intentional. Sometimes the other person would never have wanted to hurt our feelings. So when we get upset and stop interacting with that person, we cut off the possibility of having a conversation. 

Paul writes to the Ephesians,  “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,..” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

It simply means, do not go to bed without saying sorry to a person whom you have hurt or forgiving a person who has hurt you. 

Let us examine why it is important to forgive.

Ruby and Alexa were best of friends. One day at school, Ruby was in a bad mood because of something that had happened at home. She was sitting away from her group of friends and she heard Alexa say, “Ruby is fat and slow.” Ruby could not believe her ears, but she took it to heart. She went home thinking over what Alexa had said. She went over her interaction with Alexa for the past six years and began interpreting Alex’s actions in those years what a mean person she was. After they got home from school Alexa and Ruby talked over the phone everyday. But today was different. Alexa called Ruby many times but Ruby did not answer. Ruby went to bed thinking over all those years which suddenly seemed bitter memories. Next day she found another set of girls and started interacting with them and started a gossip about Alexa. Alexa eventually came to know about it. She was very upset about it. To find comfort she found her own group of friends and gossiped about Ruby. Finally it became a cause for rivalry in the class. The best of friends became worst of enemies.

The “Ruby” Alexa was actually talking about was her neighbour’s cat who was fat and slow.

What if Ruby and Alexa knew about, Ephesian 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To be kind, compassionate and forgiving…

Ruby was still hurt because she heard “Ruby is fat and  slow” said by her best friend. However, she could have responded to Alexa’s call and told her she was hurt and given Alexa a chance to explain what had happened and they could have been friends again. 

Or 

Even though Ruby was talking ill about her, Alexa could have not started a gossip about Ruby. (Better said than done!)

Or

When Ruby was spreading gossip someone could have become a mediator and stopped the hate from spreading.

Impacts of Forgiving and not forgiving

Impacts of not forgiving  Impacts of Forgiving 
Worry Peace
Hate Love
Anger Happiness
Depression Cheerfulness
Resentment Positive attitude
Consider oneself to be a victim
Brings unity among people
Reduces one’s potentialBecomes broad minded
Become narrow mindedFocus on the good side of everything
Become very critical Can interact with everyone
GossipCan get things done
Spread negativity
Fights
Division among people
Limits interaction
Even wars

It is hard to forgive someone who hurt our feelings or did harm to us. For that we need God’s grace, God’s love.

Jesus says,  “…leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Mathew 5:24 (NIV)

This is also one reason we do confession before Holy Qurbono or have the priest pray over us. This is called Hoosoyo.  The priest acts as a mediator between God and us. He asks God to forgive our sins, so that we can offer our gifts with a pure heart. During the Holy Qurbana we ask forgiveness of each other during the “Kiss of Peace” When we slide our palms in between the palms of the person standing next to us. God expects us to forgive others when we ask Him to forgive our sins. There is a prayer that we say quite a few times each day. What is the prayer? In the Lord’s prayer we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. It is when we forgive others that we receive forgiveness from Christ for our sins. 

Name a person who was punished for absolutely doing no wrong – Jesus. He did not commit a single sin but he was crucified like a bad man(criminal). When we are hurt by somebody what do we do? (Be angry, be mad. complain…). What did Jesus do? He prayed for those who hurt Him even though He was in great pain, He was thirsty and He was dying. Even though you and I were not born when Jesus died, He died for all humanity. He has taken up the burden of our sins. So God forgives us when we sincerely are sorry for our wrong. Which means we have to forgive others who have hurt us. Fair enough, isn’t it?

There is also a day in our Church calendar that we have dedicated to forgiveness. It is the Shubqono service which was mentioned in the beginning. We are reminded that forgiving our fellow brothers and sisters displays the same immeasurable love that Christ shows us, despite our own shortcomings and faults.

Conclusion for Ages 4-6

Have the students repeat after the teacher:

Let us pray.   “Lord Jesus You died for me. You love me even though I may not do the right thing. I am very sorry for not being kind, not sharing, for being angry. Help me not to do it again. Help me to be loving like you amen.

Kiss of Peace

At the end of the lesson, the kids can line up and practice giving the Kiss of Peace to each other, just as we do in the Shubqono Service. Each student can recite the following prayer as you go down the line: 

“Please forgive me, (name/brother/sister/friend).” In response they can say, “As God forgives, I also forgive you.”

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