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February 2, 2018, 4:03 PM

The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu

During Lent, our Wednesday evening worship will focus on the theme of forgiveness.  In particular, I will be drawing from an excellent resource I read last summer as part of my Doctor of Ministry work: The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond and Mpho Tutu.  In the book, father and daughter share personal experiences—Desmond drawing from his stories of living in apartheid and later as Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, and Mpho sharing about the murder of a close family friend.  From these experiences, the Tutus discuss the significance of forgiveness, how it works, why everyone needs to know how to grant and receive it, and why granting forgiveness is one of the most important gifts we can give to ourselves when we have been wronged. 

As one of the key parts of the book, Desmond and Mpho Tutu outline a “Fourfold Path” of forgiveness: “Telling the Story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.”   Indeed, we all know that we need to forgive and be forgiven because Jesus tells us to (see Mt. 6:9-15, Mk. 11:25, Lk. 6:37 for a few examples), but it is much harder to practice forgiveness—unless you have been taught how to do so.  That is what the book offers some very practical exercises, meditations and prayers to help us practice forgiveness along the way.

During Lent, we will gather for dinner at 6:00 pm, Ringers and Singers and Children’s choir rehearsal at 6:30 pm, and evening prayer at 7:00 pm.  The midweek services will be approximately 30 minutes long (the Ash Wednesday services on February 14 will be at noon and 7:00, and will be closer to an hour).  For your convenience, a few copies of the book will be available for purchase at Holy Spirit, or you can download a kindle version of the book from Amazon for $1.99.  I encourage you to read it over Lent and try some of the activities that they recommend. 

Until then, here are a few quotes from the book to get you thinking about forgiveness:

“In our own ways, we are all broken. Out of that brokenness, we hurt others. Forgiveness is the journey we take toward healing the broken parts. It is how we become whole again.” 

“Transformation begins in you, wherever you are, whatever has happened, however you are suffering. Transformation is always possible. We do not heal in isolation. When we reach out and connect with one another—when we tell the story, name the hurt, grant forgiveness, and renew or release the relationship—our suffering begins to transform.” 

“Forgiveness is truly the grace by which we enable another person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. To not forgive leads to bitterness and hatred. Like self-hatred and self-contempt, hatred of others gnaws away at our vitals. Whether hatred is projected out or stuffed in, it is always corrosive to the human spirit.” 

“We are not responsible for what breaks us, but we can be responsible for what puts us back together again. Naming the hurt is how we begin to repair our broken parts.” 

― Quotations from Desmond & Mpho TutuThe Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World, San Francisco: HarperOne, 2015.

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