Preaching Forgiveness on 9/11

The Gospel text in this week’s lectionary is — also the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — is about forgiveness.  Happy coincidence?  Maybe so.  At The Hardest Question, Nadia Bolz-Weber has some thoughts on how she’s going to preach it:

Any of the above would be great candidates for most disturbing question for this text. But this isn’t “The Most Disturbing Question” blog. It’s “The Hardest Question.” And when it comes down to it none of these is the hardest question, these are red herrings—ways to distract ourselves from what’s really hard here. And what’s really hard is forgiving people who have sinned against us. What’s really hard is to know what to do when out hearts are filled not with forgiveness and mercy but with rage.

On this, the 10th anniversary of September 11—something that for many marks us Americans as people who have been sinned against in a profound and unforgettable way—a text on forgiveness, the likes of which we have here in Matthew 18, might be the perfect opportunity to speak a little truth about what is really in our hearts.

The hardest question is this: From where will we attain this forgiveness for those who have caused us harm? I’ll tell you one thing for sure. It ain’t in my heart. No sir. It’s kinda dark in there.

via » Kinda Dark in There.

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  • I love her approach, particularly how she claims the difficulty in forgiveness in the first place.

  • Blake

    We would be remiss if we didn’t also pause to consider how many times we have “sinned against in a profound and unforgettable way” others, even just over the course of two misbegotten wars.

  • Lock

    The central issue of the attacks is not forgiveness, the central issue how to secure ourselves from this happening again.

  • John Mc

    The hardest question is how do we escape the prison of anger and unforgiveness inflicted on us by the evil-doer. How long are we going to allow the evil-doer to control our passions? How long are we going to allow ourselves to be enslaved by our wounds?

  • In revisiting 9-11 and exploring both the lectionary text from 10 years ago (1 Tim. 1) and the Gospel today, I too focused on both grace and forgivness. Without this can we move on?

  • John Mc


    I hope the quote from Tsvangirai is wrong, because retributive and compensatory justice is not often accomplished, but forgiveness is always called for. If there can be no forgiveness without justice, then real forgiveness will be as rare a commodity as justice.

  • Thanks for sharing. I enjoy your blog!

  • Pingback: Elsewhere (09.12.2011) | Near Emmaus()

  • Alexander Ehrich

    I think what I find so compelling about this little thought of hers is how frank she is. Forgiveness is not easy, it is not simple, and often impossible in human terms. Certainly terms of national defense and security need be addressed as Lock pointed out, but the political and military issues are not being discussed here. What is being discussed is how we as individuals that make up both a nation and a culture move on. I find it funny that the term that is always floating around during 9/11 is “remember”. Forgiveness requires that in some sense we forget, we move on.

    All this to say that forgiveness is God’s work, which is specifically demonstrated to us by Christ who forgave even to the point of dying.