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A Resolution for Community

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” 

-Henri Nouwen

A new year, new promises, new opportunities. I have never really been one to make resolutions at the beginning of the year. I chalk this up mostly to being terrified of putting something in front of me that I cannot meet (I can get a little obsessive about expectations…) I have also grown to realize that there are natural cycles to life, and sometimes these don’t match up with January 1, so if I start to feel like I need to make a change in June, I should!

In spite of this, I still find myself feeling the energy of a new year. I absolutely get why people make resolutions, and I get why they sometimes work. We hope that the (often) public declaration of a new habit, or losing an old one, will help us launch ourselves into a better place in the new year. But how quickly do we quietly move further away from our resolution, and with it, any hope of real and encouraging growth?

I had someone describe a piece of the Levitical law that rocked me. We read the intricacies of the law and see how Israel were given specific details for sacrifices. If you committed a certain sin, it required a certain payment. This makes intuitive sense - it would help you associate the weight of your actions by seeing different animals take the punishment you deserve (death). However, the piece that we don’t think about because we’re much more individual minded is how that means everyone else would know the sins you committed.

You head to the tabernacle, trailing behind you is a young female goat...it would not take much for everyone around you to figure out that you may have touched something unclean, or made an oath you did not keep. Even worse, if you were seen bringing a pair of doves everyone knew you were too poor to afford the required sacrifice!

I cannot imagine having to walk before my community, essentially broadcasting all of the slander, judgmental thoughts and errant words that spewed from my mouth during the day. Would it make me pause more before I did something? Would it make me more aware of the sins I am regularly missing?

How would 2016 look different if I were to bring my goats and doves, walk before my community, and honestly seek forgiveness without hiding or shame? It terrifies me to consider living that openly, revealing the darkness in my heart to those who support me. I expect I would begin to change not because I’m scared of failing or not living up to the goals I set; rather I expect change would come from experiencing the fullness of grace met fully by those who love me. Maybe if we all saw each other coming before the High Priest, seeking forgiveness communally, we would understand what it takes to move into a new sort of community - one filled with grace and striving to live as Christ has called us to live.

 

What does it look like to have others walk alongside of us in our struggles with sin?