Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Proper 19

General Reflection on the Readings

Ecclesiasticus 27:30-28:7
Psalm 103 or 103:8-13
Romans 14:5-12
Matthew 18:21-35

Reflection on Romans 12: 1-8
by the Rev Margaret W. Thomas

Forgiveness is often difficult to grant although it is extremely easy to seek. There is a motto, It is easier to ask forgiveness, than to ask permission. Yet where does that place us with the Divine, the Creator, or our companions on our life journey?

The Wisdom people, the sages, Joseph with his brothers who left him for dead, Paul in his deep awareness of the wrongs he had inflicted on Jesus’ followers, and the King who could forgive his servants all recognized where their deepest connection or, grounding was, with God. Jesus, himself, speaks to us in Scripture as he asks forgiveness for his crucifiers.

It seems that those most able to forgive are those who recognize their own source of being. They recognize and remember thankful dependence on God. Christian theologian, John Robinson used the term, “ground of being” to describe one’s basic core relationship to God at a time in the 60s when many folks struggled over traditional theological terms for God. The term referred to a depth at the center of one’s being. (Honest to God, John A. T. Robinson: Westminster Press, 1963.)

More recently, a new/old concept about divine thankfulness related to the term, “ground” could be considered. Native Americans often refer to the earth as their mother, the ultimate source of their lives and sustenance. Whenever they use or consume something from the earth, they give thanks to her. Many offer tobacco to the plant or animal they are about to take or harvest. Native Americans recognize that the plants and animals are sharing themselves so that a human may live. The term, “ground” in a literal sense as Earth Mother is similar to Robinson’s “ground of being” as a theological term.

Another instance where connections can be made with Christian and Native American understandings is discussed by The Rev. Canon Ginny, Doctor, of Alaska. The Canon to the Ordinary discusses “The Great Thanksgiving” a celebration of her native Onondaga people. Traditional Onondaga beliefs remind people to always remember that everything in life has been given. That thankful attitude is parallel to Christian Holy Eucharist and it’s understanding as worship of gratefulness and thankfulness. (“There is Only One God and God Speaks All languages" First Peoples, Theology Journal Vol. 1, 3 . January; Indigenous Theological Training Institute: Minneapolis, 2005)

Thus those who live with thankful hearts and minds, know their own sources and are are more likely to be able to forgive because they have all they need in their relationships to God. They also know of their own failings and are grateful be able to even respond. The stronger the connections the easier the forgiveness.

  Copyright Statement

The Rev Margaret W. Thomas is rector of St. Edward the Confessor Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN. She originally wrote this reflection in 2005.  Margaret and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Margaret W. Thomas or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

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