Easter Week Visits
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 8:38-39.
I talk with so many people who do not believe they deserve God’s love. I remember visiting with a very alert, highly educated woman in her 90s, still involved in her successful business, who wanted to start going back to church—but only after she got her life together and felt she was a better person. I told her the famous line that “The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.” But she never returned.
I talk to many people recovering from addiction who feel so much shame for the life they have led. They do not see how God and others can forgive them. So many have been taught to fear a judgmental God who is looking over their shoulder in order to catch them in sin.
I want to let them know that there is another way, a belief in resurrection, an Easter which can redeem after a Good Friday life or experience. If I can, I remind them of Jesus’ disciples who abandoned and denied him. He did not return to them in that upper room on Easter evening and say, “Shame on you.” Instead he said, “‘Peace be with you.’ … When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven’” (John 20:21-23).
We talk about the difference between shame, “I am a bad person,” and guilt, “I did a wrong thing.” We also talk about addiction not being a moral failing, but a disease. We talk about seeing any sign of God’s love alive and well, working in their life. We pray that the Holy Spirit will lead both of us to recognize this presence alive in each other, so that we will both see and be led by the Christ in each other. Sometimes I tell my story of how God has been present in my life through so many difficulties, to see if they recognize any similarity between my story and theirs. Last, I may share the above mantra from Romans that I used for several years as I became more aware of the harm I had done to others and to myself and was seeking forgiveness.
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