Opening my heart to God offers the ability to forgive

Scripture: Genesis 45: 1-15

God knows I want to forgive.  It is just so hard.  A self pep-talk of “forgive, forgive this!” doesn’t work.  Forgiveness requires opening to grace.

Joseph in this scripture shows how to open to grace.  In the face of the old hurt and pain between brothers, Joseph didn’t close down into retribution. He wept.  He cried so loudly that the ripping open of his heart to God’s grace was heard far away in the household. Joseph let his heart break open to God.

Joseph manifested weakness rather than strength.  He doesn’t try to come off as the guy in charge. He sets aside the trappings of power and joins with his brothers in a space of vulnerability and intimacy. When his brothers were so dismayed at being in the presence of their brother whom they sold into slavery that they couldn’t even speak, Joseph gently urged them to come physically closer.  It is hard to reconcile at a distance.  Then Joseph identified their common story.  He named what they shared, brotherhood.  Joseph also named the truth in that story—they sold him into slavery.  He didn’t punish or shame them, though. Joseph doesn’t require sorry or regret from them. He sees through to what life is like for them—full of fear, and the struggle for survival without food.  He is compassionate, aware of what it might be like to walk in their shoes—or sandals.

Lastly, he names that out of really hard and difficult stuff, God can bring life.  In no way is Joseph condoning the evil actions of his brothers.  Rather, God is active and at work even in their brokenness. The brother’s sinful objectives have been thwarted by being drawn into God’s life-giving purposes.  Joseph is able to speak this gospel word because he has experienced it deep within his own life.  He weeps again as he extend forgiveness to his brothers.

So, the path of forgiveness as Joseph lives it:  let your heart break open, weep, offer weakness and intimacy, stand closer, identify what you share, name the truth without shaming, let go of need for regret from others, see through to how other person’s life is, look for how God worked life out of hard stuff.  Weep.

With a whole lot of grace, I might just be able to forgive.  I think I’ll have a good weep to begin and let my heart crack open.

Yoga

With this practice of forgiveness, we are really going to open our hearts–by opening the chest, hips and doing backbends.  The heart space will extend open in each pose.  We are going to open up!

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana– the prep version of this pose is known as pigeon.  From down dog, bring the right knee down on the mat near the right hand, with the right foot down and pointing back to the left hip.  The left leg extends long behind you, toes tucked under.  Big lift through the heart, with the shoulder blades back, and the tailbone dropping down.

From here, loop a strap over the ball of the left foot.  Allow the strap to fall over your shoulder. With the palm up and elbow bent, reach around with the left hand to grab the strap.  Draw your foot in.  If able rotate the arm in, then bend the right arm also to hold the strap. Head looks up and back.  Open the heart.

2017-8-17 from Myers Park UMC on Vimeo.

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