Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?" "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven." -Matthew 18:21-22
Ten years ago, Charles Carl Roberts IV walked into a one room Amish school house and shot 10 Amish school girls and then he shot himself. Words cannot begin to describe the devastation his acts of evil brought upon those whose lives were forever altered due to his violence.
Terri Roberts, the mother of Charles, received a visit only a few hours following the shootings from an Amish man named Henry who came to assure the Roberts family that they were not viewed as enemies; after all, they had lost a son as well. Forgiveness was the first act of faith practiced by the Amish community rather than vengeance. For the Amish community forgiveness is practiced out of the starting gate instead of being the end result of a long healing process.
I read about this 10 year process yesterday morning before heading over to JCPC for Sunday worship. For all involved in the fateful day, the healing is not complete but rather on-going. I found myself thinking about Jesus' answer to Peter when Peter asked how many times we are to forgive.
Sometimes forgiveness is a one- time act. Other times, it takes years of active forgiving.
Forgiveness has taken Terri Roberts into some deep places of healing. She has developed a relationship with Rossana, the youngest survivor of the massacre. Rosanna is severely handicapped from her wounds and Terri comes to her home every Thursday to bath and read to Rosanna at bedtime. Forgiveness and healing; 70 times 7.
Below is Terri's picture. Notice the word above the window to her sun room. In the world of 70 times 7 forgiveness this is a true Son Room.
Prayer for Today
Merciful Lord, teach us how to forgive as many times as it takes so that your mercy will bring healing into our lives. Amen.