Bananas

How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

-Psalm 119:103

About four days into my eleven day trip to Israel, I realized that I hadn’t seen a banana anywhere. I usually eat a banana a day, and while I had access to fresh melons, pomegranate, dates, apples, cherries, oranges, pineapple, mango, and more– there were no bananas. Now, if you’re not a banana eater, you probably wouldn’t even have noticed the lack of bananas amongst the rainbow of fresh fruit options. But after four days with no banana, I sure noticed their absence. As the days stretched on, I noticed that it wasn’t just that I missed bananas: about eight days in, I really wanted a banana. By the time I landed back in the U.S., I was craving a banana so much that I spent $1.40 for a single banana in the airport.

It’s easy to take things for granted when we have quick access to them all the time. I can and do get bananas at Family Foods all the time when I’m home without thinking twice about it. Traveling internationally made me realize how easy it is to take not only food for granted, but anything. On this trip, we visited religious spaces belonging to Jews and Muslims, and also to Christian denominations whose idea of how to decorate and behave in holy space was quite a bit different from mine. Being away from what was familiar was a challenge, as I longed to find meaning in these spaces without quite feeling at home.

Until, that is, Sunday morning, when we went to worship in the only English-speaking Lutheran church in all of Jerusalem. We settled in for worship, and there in the pew sat a cranberry-colored hymnal, from which the pastor began to play Holy Communion Setting Six, and suddenly I was at ease. I was so used to these words and melodies that the familiar hymnal was almost an unnecessary accessory. Worship was so sweet and satisfying in a way I hadn’t expected it would be only a week after the last time I had been in church, and yet it was exactly what I needed after the whirlwind of days spent visiting so many different and unfamiliar spaces. Confession and forgiveness led to prayers, to readings, to preaching, to prayers, to communion, to blessing, all intermingled with hymns I knew or could at least follow along. I was as far away from home as I’d ever been, and yet I was right at home.

The experience of worship with familiar words was centering both because of how well I knew them and because of how sweet those words are. Words like “peace be with you,” “Lord have mercy,” and “the body of Christ given for you” were sweet to speak and sing and hear. They showed how God’s faithfulness and love are greater than any distance or difference. The sweet familiar words reminded me how often we all need to hear that we are welcomed, chosen, and forgiven. Those words are even sweeter than honey. They nourish the spirit and restore the soul.

Dear God, let your words always be sweet to me. Wherever I go, may I find my home in your words. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Julia Ward Howe was an American poet and abolitionist in the 19th century. When the Civil War began, she found herself touring one of the Union Army camps with family and friends. To the shock of Howe and her posh companions, the men of the armies were gustily singing out,

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave

His soul’s marching on!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! his soul’s marching on!

Then followed more verses of the catchy song, each one more alarming to the refined listeners than the last. John Brown was an avid abolitionist who had died before the war in a failed attempt to lead a slave revolt. His life inspired many to the cause of abolition, but the idea of the Union Army marching to Virginia singing about a moldy corpse left Julia Ward Howe concerned. At the encouragement of a friend, she wrote a new poem for the tune, which we now know as the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

Glory, Glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment-seat:

Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on.

Glory, Glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

A bit more inspiring the second way, huh? The Battle Hymn of the Republic reminds us that although it is often easier to leave things just the way they are, it is important that we don’t just settle. Julia Ward Howe recognized the good of the marching song’s tune and its focus on freedom for slaves while thinking critically about better lyrics. Without her creative revision, we would never have the incredible moving power of the Battle Hymn.

The inspiring power of the Battle Hymn has itself been used for evil and good. In the mid 20th century, the KKK included it in their initiation ceremonies. Rejecting their idea that the Battle Hymn was only for certain Americans, a few decades later, Martin Luther King declared in his last speech, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord… His truth is marching on!” When we have powerful words, we must ensure that they are used for good.

As we commemorate our country’s independence this week, I hope we can celebrate the good and work to improve the not-so-good, just as Julia Ward Howe, Martin Luther King, and countless others have done. I pray that when we have powerful words, we use them in service to God and our neighbors.

O God, make my soul and feet swift to answer your call. Let your glory be seen in my life, words, and deeds, as I reject evil and work for good. Amen.

Emanuel

If one member [of the Body of Christ] suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. – I Corinthians 12:26

Last week, I had the opportunity to see the documentary Emanuel, a film about the Emanuel 9, killed in an act of domestic terrorism and white supremacy while in Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. The film offered historical context while focusing primarily on the family and friends of the victims, particularly their astonishing statements of forgiveness to Dylann Roof, who had entered the church, sat through an hour of Bible study, and opened fire during prayer. I also led a discussion group with a dozen other Lutherans after the film, in which we talked about the impact Emanuel made on us and the evil of racism.

Several teenagers were part of the discussion, and one said in a puzzled way, “I couldn’t understand how he could do this. They said he had a normal life and that all this hate grew in just a few months.”

Her statement clarified for me something that I had known but never quite internalized: it is not enough to be neutral or even to reject evil if we do not also affirm what is good. Being non-racist isn’t enough; we must be anti-racist. From the film, it seemed that Dylann Roof was raised neither to accept nor reject white supremacy. When he encountered it as a young adult, mere months before murdering nine Black Americans at prayer, he had no framework to help him reject it. This is particularly troubling to me as an ELCA pastor, as Roof grew up attending a congregation of the ELCA.

So what then can we (and here by “we” I mean white Americans, especially Christians, especially Lutherans) do? We can see that we have a moral calling to reject sin, death, and the power of the devil, as we say in baptism. But how? It’s not enough to avoid being racist. We must also affirm the God-given dignity and holiness of people of color, whose worth has so often been called into question. We must act as if we believe Paul’s words that “when one member of the body suffers, all suffer with it.” We must have the courage to tell the truth and listen when the truth is told, that we are captive to the sin of white supremacy in our communities and even in our churches, and that we need God to set us free.

I also ponder this question as a white mother of young white children. Each time I read “Martin’s Big Words” to my children and answer their hard questions about why white people wanted MLK dead, I hope they learn to reject white supremacy. Each time I offer diverse books and toys, I pray they recognize the beauty of the breadth of God’s children. Each time I commit again to the hard work of anti-racism, I do so longing for my dear children and the dear children of every color to see the future that MLK dreamed, of a beloved community formed of every race.

The blood of the martyrs cries out from Charleston: the lives of Clementa, Ethel, Daniel, Cynthia, Susie, Depayne, Tywanza, Sharonda, and Myra. We cannot afford to ignore it.

At the discussion I led, we closed with the Lord’s Prayer. I offer them here, again, in the hope that when we pray to be delivered from evil and see God’s kingdom come, we remember Emanuel.

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

I’ve got peace like a …rabbit?

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters…

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies.

-Psalm 23:1-2, 5

God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,

though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;

though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

-Psalm 46:1-3

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A rabbit sat out on the lawn of a church, happily munching on clover. It raised a wary eye to passers by, but it knew it was safe on the church lawn. Noisy kids rode by on bicycles, but the rabbit remained. The mail carrier delivered the mail, slamming the box shut, but the rabbit placidly chewed clover. Even when a street cleaner drove past, loudly brushing and spraying, the rabbit was unmoved. It knew it was safe.

What makes you feel safe? Where do you feel most safe? Is it a certain place, or being around certain people? Does a certain time of day or night feel more safe?

Often, people express feeling that safety and security are synonymous. In other words, the more locks, walls, or gates involved, the more safe they feel. These psalms tell a different story. Security isn’t the goal at all. After all, being at a feast surrounded by enemies or in the middle of an earthquake or hurricane is not my idea of security!

The Bible paints a picture of safety that depends only on the presence of God with us. Whether we rest in pleasant pastures or tremble with the mountains, when we trust that God is “very present” with us, we can be confident that we are safe. Oh, I don’t mean that no trouble or sorrow will ever come. The psalm says that God is “a very present help in trouble.” God doesn’t always keep us out of trouble, but God does always accompany us through it. We don’t have to be agitated when trouble approaches. God is with us.

Think back to the rabbit. I can think of all sorts of dangers that rabbit might face, from neighborhood cats to disgruntled gardeners. I wonder why it continued eating so calmly in the face of possible threats. The simple fact is, that rabbit wasn’t scared. Whatever happened around it, it trusted its safety.

What can we learn from the rabbit? Could you trust that God is protecting you when things are easy and when they’re hard? Could you believe you’re safe, whatever goes on around you? When trouble and disaster come, could you take refuge in God?

O God my refuge and strength, lead me through green pastures with still waters. Be ever-present with me in times of trouble and danger. Give me your peace. Amen.

Weeds in the Garden

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” -Matthew 13:24-26

There was once a very well-kept yard, landscaped and carefully gardened. The homeowners delighted in keeping a variety of trees, bushes, and flowers. Then, one day, the homeowners took jobs in another state, moved away, and sold the house. The new homeowners weren’t very fond of gardening. It wasn’t that they deliberately ruined the yard. They just didn’t care to keep it up as the previous homeowners had. Weeds crept into the lawn. Bushes became overgrown. “Volunteer” trees sprang up in the flower beds. Dangerous plants, poison ivy and the like, began to grow. Through neglect, what was a beautifully kept yard became a chaotic and unpleasant mess.

We all know that weeds grow easily when they’re left to their own devices. And the more weeds there are, the more quickly they spread.

While thistles and creeping charley might not hurt a person’s faith like they hurt a grassy yard, there are other sorts of weeds that can grow in our hearts and choke out the good things the Holy Spirit is planting there.

Take jealousy, for instance. It might start out small: wishing you had the money or the family or the job that someone else has. Jealousy grows from small seeds into bitter resentment at anyone having what you lack, and once it’s taken deep root, it is hard to remove. Even getting whatever made you jealous in the first place is no solution: it’s as if a vine is removed only above ground, leaving the roots in place to send out another shoot. Only pulling jealousy out by the roots, believing that what you have is enough and that happiness cannot come from acquiring things, can that weed be removed.

Or gossip, another weed, though a bit more like a dandelion. It’s not hard to pull out, but it grows impossibly fast and spreads wherever the breeze carries it. A single rumor can spread even more quickly than a wind-tossed dandelion, and with terrible effect.

These and other weeds can spring up in our hearts and minds when we least expect it, especially if we aren’t paying attention. Any gardener will tell you that a yard cannot be established once and then left entirely to its own devices. A garden needs attention from a gardener; so, too, do our hearts require our attention if we hope to produce a good harvest.

First, we need to pay attention. Is resentment growing in our hearts? What about jealousy or anger? Where did it come from? A homeowner cannot control their neighbor’s yard, but they can tend carefully to the border. If we notice that we are surrounded by weeds, whatever their form, we need to watch carefully that they don’t grow in us. In some cases, we might even need to move ourselves away from influences that sabotage to be nearer those that support our characters.

Second, we need to be deliberate. When I wanted to grow tulips, I planted tulips– AND I watched carefully for clover trying to grow where the tulips had been planted. If I wish to grow in generosity, I need to find opportunities to be generous even as I watch for weeds of selfishness or greed.

Third, we must remember that it is God who makes good things grow in us. Through the Holy Spirit living in us, we produce good fruit. Jesus is the gardener who prunes away what should be pruned and nourishes what needs to grow.

Gardening God, plant only what is good and pleasing to you in my heart. Help me weed out those things that hurt me, my neighbor, or you. Amen.

Suffering and the Cross

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God… and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. -Romans 8: 14,17

It is a common idea that God blesses and protects the people who please God. The idea is that if we live our lives exactly the way God expects us to, we’ll prosper. If we don’t, well, that has its consequences, too. It’s a popular idea. It’s also wrong.

For one thing, it’s totally manipulative. Either we’re manipulating God by going to church, helping others, and reading our Bibles in order to get a raise at work, or else God is carefully doling out rewards based on how many divine brownie points we’ve accumulated. Even more importantly:

It’s just not Biblical. The Bible doesn’t describe suffering as punishment or lack of God’s faithfulness. Instead, the Bible shows us that God is with the ones who suffer. Jesus Christ, himself truly human and truly God, suffers a lot. Even from birth, he’s treated with disdain and hostility. Attempts are made on his life. His family and friends reject him. Doesn’t exactly sound like a prosperous, easy life.

Instead, Jesus faces his suffering head on, not because he delights in suffering or because he thinks the Father sent it to test him, but because he knows that only a life shaped by suffering, ultimately the suffering of the cross, leads to the glory of everlasting life. Jesus Christ knew what we needed him to do: not to show us the way to live but to suffer with us so that we could receive glory with him.

In short, suffering isn’t a punishment. Instead, we can see that through whatever suffering or trouble we might face, we are becoming more like Jesus Christ. Our lives, too, are shaped by the cross.

To put it another way, Martin Luther preached, “If you have affliction and suffering, say: I have myself not chosen and prepared this cross; it is because of the Word of God that I am suffering and that I have and teach Christ. So let it be in God’s name. I will let him take care of it and fight it out who long ago foretold that I should have this suffering and promised me his divine and gracious help.” (“Sermon on Cross and Suffering”)

God gives meaning to suffering and endurance to make it through simply because we are chosen as God’s children, given the inheritance of everlasting life that belongs to Jesus. Since glorious everlasting life is the inheritance of Jesus Christ, it is given equally to us who are adopted as children of the Heavenly Father and siblings of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit who leads us, together one God now and always.

Holy Spirit, I thank you for leading me through both joy and suffering, trusting that through suffering I am shaped by the cross of Jesus Christ, my brother, until the day when I am brought safely home to the glory of my heavenly Father. Amen.

Fall Apart. It’s Okay.

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It’s okay to fall apart sometimes. Tacos fall apart, and we still love them. – “Pickle Queens” meme on Facebook

God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

Most of us, most of the time, present a pretty put-together persona. We are happy to let other people know about our successes, never our failures. We only share the flattering photos. We tell about the celebrations and good stuff. This is especially true on social media. When was the last time you heard someone proudly declare, “I’m overworked and overscheduled. I need to figure out what I can let go of,” or “My anxiety is ratcheting up to such a level that doing the dishes seems overwhelming,” or “I think I might be drinking too much,” or “I just can’t keep up the pace I did twenty years ago.” ? When did you last dare to think it, much less say it about yourself?

We have a culture that celebrates successful independence. We are socialized to believe that success is better than failure, and doing it by yourself is better than asking for help. We’ve even created a whole genre of self-help books because heaven forbid we actually ask someone else for help. Much better, we think, to get a few pointers and then work it out ourselves.

The trouble is, it doesn’t usually work out. Even Paul, who had every reason to boast about himself and what he had done couldn’t keep it up all the time. Being strong and successful all by yourself all the time is exhausting and impossible. But for some reason, we keep on thinking we can do it all. We keep trying to be perfect.

God doesn’t want you to even try. God knows you, the unfiltered, unflattering, unsuccessful you. God knows all the ways you have let yourself and others down. And God is delighted by your failures. Yes, delighted. Why?

Because God does God’s very best work in our failures and foibles. When we are successful, we may be tempted to believe that we got there on our own. Look at me! I did it! When we fail, when we fall, when we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves, God shows up. God strengthens us, picks us up, dusts us off, and sets us free. When we fall apart and turn our broken selves to God, God puts us together again in ways we couldn’t have possibly achieved ourselves. God’s power shows up most perfectly and completely in our weakness.

God’s grace shows up in our failure and brings us the power of Jesus Christ to dwell within us. It’s a power that gives life when we are lifeless. It’s a power that gives hope when we are hopeless. It’s a power that brings us wholeness when we are broken.

So go right ahead. Fall apart. Trust that the God who loves you will put you back together again.

God, I am broken. I fail. I can’t do it by myself. Thank you for loving me in my failures. Thank you for putting me back together when I fall apart. Amen.

Why bother with a Catechism anyway?

Last week, I wrote about the central question of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: “What does this mean?” We might also ask the same question about the Small Catechism itself. Aside from providing nightmares to thousands of Lutheran teenagers required to memorize its contents, what does the Small Catechism do? What is its value? Why bother?

First, the Small Catechism really is small. There were other catechisms at the time of Martin Luther with hundreds of questions about all sorts of things. Martin Luther thought that was not only unnecessary but unhelpful.

Instead, when he created the Small Catechism, Luther chose the most central pieces of Christian faith: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession, the Lord’s Supper, and blessings for morning, evening, and mealtimes. In fact, he even put it in that order on purpose as a teaching tool.

Beginning with the Ten Commandments shows us the law, or, to put it another way, shows us God’s expectations of us. We do not and cannot live up to those expectations. Rather than leaving us in fear or despair, the Small Catechism continues with the Creed in order to show us who God is and what God has done for us. Luther expounds on the Creed, writing, “I believe God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul…[Jesus] has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil…the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel… the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sin.”

In only two short sections, the Small Catechism manages to offer law and gospel, guilt and grace. We fail God’s expectations; God provides for, redeems, and forgives us anyway. Well, then, we might ask: what’s the rest of it for?

In a word, the rest of it is for us. Knowing what we have failed to do and what God has done for us in spite of our failure rightly drives us to want to change how we live. But what can we do? Here we might expect a new set of rules. Instead, the Small Catechism directs us to God. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer that we might both do God’s will and receive and share forgiveness. In Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper, we see that God instructs us to receive grace and mercy over and over. In the blessings for morning, meals, and night, we see that God is with us at every time of day.

The Small Catechism simply and straightforwardly shows us our relationship with God: we fail. God forgives. We respond. Repeat.

God, I thank you for showing me how much I need you and graciously giving yourself to me. Teach me to respond to your goodness in obedience and love. Amen.

If you want to get deeper into the Small Catechism, you can download a free app for your phone: https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/22879/Luther-Small-Catechism-App

What Does This Mean?

What does this mean?

If you grew up in a Lutheran congregation, you may be experiencing a sense of traumatic flashbacks at reading that question. Please don’t worry: I’m not about to quiz you on how well you have the Small Catechism memorized. If you missed out on the experience of memorizing and being tested on the Small Catechism as a 12-year-old, “What does this mean?” is the central question in Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.

The Small Catechism is a teaching tool, written by Luther when he realized just how little ordinary people knew about the Bible. Luther knew that in a time where few people could read, much less own a book, a summary of Christian faith had to be simple and short. There were many sorts of catechisms intended to teach by memorization, a sort of back-and-forth with the teacher asking the prescribed questions and the students repeating the answers.

Martin Luther turned that expectation on its head. Instead of the teacher doing all the asking, Luther wrote his catechism as if a small child were asking the questions. For instance, the Small Catechism begins with the 10 Commandments:

Q: What is the first commandment? A: You shall have no other gods.

Q: What does this mean? A: We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

Do you notice how different that feels if the answers are given by the teacher (or pastor or parent) than by the learner? Instead of just telling us what we need to know, Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to show us what questions we should ask. At the heart of these questions is the repeated refrain: “What does this mean?” What does this mean for me? What does this mean for the way I live? What does this mean for my neighbor?

Whether we are children or adults, these are pressing questions. What does it mean? What is this at the center of my faith? What is at stake? What difference does it make?

Martin Luther wondered about this, too! We can tell he was concerned that Ten Commandments were interpreted too narrowly because he broadened them from a simple list of don’ts to include expectations for how we should act. Take the fifth commandment:

Q: What is the fifth commandment? A: You shall not murder.

Q: What does this mean? A: We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.

Most people could say that they have never murdered, but could we say that we’ve never endangered our neighbors? Could we say that we’ve never turned away from helping and supporting them because it was too hard or too time-consuming? I couldn’t.

The Small Catechism is a gift because it challenges us to ask questions. It offers us a way to see the foundation of our faith through new eyes. It dares us to wonder: what does this mean? and to see what God has done for us.

Holy God, give me the courage to ask questions and wonder about my faith. Thank you for your servants like Martin Luther who have given an example of faith and curiosity together. Amen.

April Showers Bring May Flowers

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout,

giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,

and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

-Isaiah 55:10-11

April showers bring May flowers, I kept reminding myself every time it rained for the past five weeks. April showers bring May flowers, April showers bring May flowers, over and over, in some combination of optimism and desperation that spring would really come. (We won’t ask what May showers bring.) I knew that in the logic of cause and effect and the change of seasons, that there would be flowers sooner or later. Some things just follow naturally, a cause and effect that can’t be derailed. It’s true for flowers in springtime, and it’s true in a lot of ways for our faith, too.

For example, Jesus told his disciples, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will move mountains.” Those mountains might only move one shovel-full at a time, but still: the Holy Spirit gives us the faith to move mountains. I think of the mountains I’ve seen in my own life or the lives of people around me: the mountain of facing illness, the mountain of getting sober, the mountain of being the first in a family to go to college, the mountain of coming out, the mountain of believing yourself to be worthy of love and belonging, the mountain of finding a new job, the mountain of admitting you were wrong.

Some of those mountains don’t move very easy.

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will move mountains. Cause and effect. As sure as April showers and May flowers. Somehow, the faith that we have in Jesus Christ is enough to move mountains.

Let me tell you something about mountains, though: you don’t have to be the one to move your mountains all alone. You can get together with one or two or a dozen or a hundred people of faith and put your shovels together to move a mountain together. You might even see that someone is paralyzed by the sheer size of their mountain and get in there and start shifting it yourself.

Here’s another cause and effect Jesus offers. He said to his disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” As incredible as it might seem, the very act of declaring forgiveness works to forgive! Cause and effect: “I forgive you” means forgiveness has occurred!

Faith and forgiveness work every time. They are trustworthy for cause-and-effect because Jesus is trustworthy. Whatever God sets out to do, God does. God’s word does what God says it will, whether that word is spoken through Jesus or through one of us. When we say “I forgive you,” we speak as if for Jesus. When we bend to do the work of moving mountains, it is the faith God gives us that strengthens us. Cause and effect. Simple and extraordinary, all at once.

Trustworthy God, I know that you keep your promises. Give me faith to move mountains and forgiveness for my sin, that I may trust you evermore. Amen.