Advent - A Season for Forgiveness

Today, I send out a few Christmas cards, and in many of them, I simply wrote:

"May the blessings of this Sacred Season
inviting Stillness and Silence be yours.
I am grateful for the gift of you!"

Advent, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali - all more or less intersect - and echo and invite the celebration of light - and at heart are joyous occasions.

It is also a time to set right things that aren't, and I found myself reflecting on this yesterday, as I read through the readings for the day. This weekend, I went down to the basement to retrieve and dust off my Lectionary - a remnant of the days I was a liturgist and responsible for worship services. I was moved to add the liturgical readings of the day to my morning reflections. Today, for example, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception...

In my morning meditations, I read from the booklet "Walk With Me," that I picked up at St. Mary's Catholic Church, in London, and reflected on these words:

"Forgiveness is a great idea until we have someone to forgive. People hurt us, we are sinned against, and in turn, we sin against others. Resentments and grudges are easy to hold onto as they eat away and rob us of joy. Forgiveness is a cornerstone of Christian living. We forgive and let go of resentment to the extent that we understand that God has forgiven us. We show mercy, kindness and forgiveness in the same way that we have received God's mercy, kindness and forgiveness. The measure of forgiveness we give is the measure we have received. God's new life begins with forgiveness. It is a gift of God's grace which every one of us without exception truly needs."

Every spiritual tradition teaches forgiveness. And these words were timely, because I had allowed myself to say unkind things the night before, and I had awaken feeling very remorseful.

Immediately upon reading the passage I just shared, I turned to the readings of the day, which began with an excerpt from the book of Isaiah:

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God...
A voice cries out in the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the desert a highway for our God!"

But it was the Gospel Reading from Matthew that really touched me, for in my remorse, I found myself unable to forgive myself and move on. It was the parable of the lost sheep, and how the shepherd left the other 99 behind in search of the lost one. Once found, the shepherd is happier about finding this one, than the others that did not wander. It is a reminder of God's love, which is ours, no matter what we do or say. Every time we come back into balance, we are embraced in God's love.

Today, I missed a dear friend very deeply. But, I allowed my soul to connect with hers, and felt incredible warmth in my heart. I knew, in that moment, we are all truly one, even though the world shows us a face of duality every time.

This season is about love and forgiveness. I share with you all, these wonderful and insightful words from the card that I am sending to a few this year:

"This Christmas
Mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Write a love letter.
Share some treasure.
Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
Keep a promise.
Find the time.
Forgive an enemy.
Listen.
Apologize if you were wrong.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little.
Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty
and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it still once again."

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