Ah, so here we are…It’s actually Easter Day, and 40 Acts is over for another year… Here are my thoughts on the last two Acts:
70 x 7
PROMPT: If generosity means giving more than we have to give, then forgiveness can be a deeply generous act. We forgive in the same ways that we’re generous: sacrificially, unconditionally, freely. Take a dive into some (maybe) uncomfortable memories: Who might you need to forgive today? What would it take for you to forgive from a generous place? How can God help you with that?
REFLECTION: Link here
ACTS: Read the Easter story in the Bible (Luke 23) and focus on Jesus’ words of forgiveness. Ask God to help you forgive.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21–22 NIV)
I actually struggled with this Act today: not because I found it hard to forgive, but because I don’t think that there is anyone I need to forgive… I certainly cannot think of anyone who has wronged me who I need to forgive. There was, in the past, someone, but I managed to come to terms with their actions a while back (through the first 40 Acts I think) and have forgiven them for what they did.
But it was today that I read on Bishop Mark Edington’s FB page, this quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship…can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, d. 9 April 1945
Mark says this: Bonhoeffer is here speaking specifically of the fellowship of marriage — but his wisdom applies to any Christian community, or at least to any community that claims itself to be centered on faith in Christ. And it is wisdom exactly because, despite how we may regard ourselves, forgiveness is not something we are naturally disposed to do; it takes discipline, as all discipleship does.
I will try to live by this – both in my marriage, but in my life outside my marriage. They seem good words to live by.
THE NOW AND NOT YET
PROMPT: The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a strange place. But it’s where lots of us live our lives – caught between mourning and moving on, between pain and joy, grieving different losses than death alone. If you look, you’ll find many around you in a place like that. Offer more than a half-hearted hug today. Help people encounter generosity in places of deep pain.
REFLECTION: Link here
ACTS: Green: Think of someone in your world that has experienced grief in the past 12 months. Give them a random call, tell them they’re on your mind, and ask them how they’re doing.
Amber: Are you struggling with anything that you haven’t told anyone? Confide in someone you trust. Giving others the opportunity to help and support you is generous because helping people makes us feel good.
Red: Think back to a difficult time in your life where someone was really there for you. Send them a text or buy them a small gift and let them know that you’ll be forever grateful.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I love the title to this Act – The Now and Not Yet – it’s a really intriguing, exciting title that makes me yearn to know more. I feel like it’s reaching out to something beyond us now. I love the reflection too, that reminds us that God uses our bad times and our good times.
I think I fulfilled this Act by accident on Good Friday, as I met up with someone for coffee. She poured out her heart to me, confiding things she says she has never told anyone. I hold her in my heart.
It was on the same day that this Act arrived in my inbox that I also got a message from Rend Collective. It sums up what this is all about. I hope it’s okay to share it here:
This Is My Resurrection Day
The resurrection of Jesus means that we have full assurance of life BEFORE death.
Of course we also can count on life after death – that is definitely one of the most amazing promises of scripture and not something I would in any way diminish.
But what if the resurrection is even better than that?
You see, when my alarm clock blares at me on a Monday morning and I drag myself “Walking Dead” style to the coffee maker, I don’t really find myself energized to wake up and live for the kingdom by acknowledging the fact that when I die, I will rise again.
If anything, when I see the resurrection as only applying to me post-mortem, I might as well just go back to bed and seek shelter under the sheets and just try to stay comfy until the trumpet sounds.
No, what I need to set a fire in my weary bones is not the thought of a life after death but the reality that I can have abundant, meaningful life BEFORE death – and we find that in scripture.
Romans boldly proclaims that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is burning inside of us: begging for resurrection not to be about the afterlife but to be our way of life.
Wendell Berry, one of my favorite poets ( yes – I may just be the last person alive who reads poetry for fun!), puts it like this: “Practice resurrection.”
You may be saying to yourself right now that this seems like a really uplifting thought for a poem…but how do I actually do that in real life?
Every time you take something lifeless and broken and revive it, you are practicing resurrection.
Something as simple and ordinary as recycling your cardboard.
Coming alongside a couple whose marriage is on life support and speaking words of hope.
Sharing Jesus with a friend who doesn’t understand why, even though everything is fine on the surface, she just doesn’t feel alive.
We live out the message of resurrection: that dead things don’t have to stay that way and that even the bleakest of circumstances imaginable can be restored.
But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Before we start practicing resurrection out in the world, maybe we need to look inside and see those areas inside our own souls that need CPR.
Maybe right now you feel like you’ve fallen and you’ll never be able to get back up again.
Maybe you’ve failed so catastrophically, the weight of shame is just keeping you pinned to the floor, unsure if you’ll ever get up again.
In these seasons we need to remember that the risen Jesus – “the resurrection and the life” – is the lifeblood pounding through our veins.
With the fierceness that comes with knowing that we are invincible in Christ, we need to join Micah’s battle cry:
“Do not gloat over me my enemy, for though I have fallen I will rise.”
The fact is, if Jesus can rise up out of the grave, you can definitely get up off the floor.
Because by now we’ve realized the resurrection is not just our future hope – it’s the hope alive in us right here, in this very moment.
So let’s breathe resurrection into our own lives and into the world around us – starting right now.
– Rend Collective