by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter, 2/13/14

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We have been in Winter's grip these last few weeks. Snow and ice created frosty backgrounds for family photos. Many of us created as much of a snowman as the few inches of snow would allow. Great fun and quiet rest have filled these snow days. There is another side to this wintry mix, snow and ice can bring isolation. People can go a little stir crazy. There is a reticence to go out, a fear of ice we may find on the road. When the conditions aren't just right, we stay in and hold back.
 
Icy relationships can also make us hold back. Beneath the surface of frozen family photos, we find guilt and long held grievances.
 
On Wednesday evenings we have been exploring the art of Christian living. Next week, we will discuss a constitutive Christian practice: forgiveness. Forgiveness melts long held bitterness; it allows for gestures of grace.
 
"The practice of forgiveness is not only, or even primarily, a way of dealing with guilt. Instead, its central goal is to reconcile, to restore communion—with God, with one another, and with the whole creation." — L. Gregory Jones
 
Forgiveness allows the one who holds the grudge to let go. Forgiveness warms us up just enough to allow the ice of resentment and pain to thaw. The weight of the grudge and the chill of separation can begin to melt. Reconciliation can start.
 
The Church is where we practice forgiveness. We are forgiven by God and can live out of that model. Practice will never make us perfect at forgiving, but it will allow us to live out the grace we have received.