Every week, Dwight Campbell writes a commentary on Billy's sermon to use as a discussion tool for the Men's Group that meets each Thursday. They meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m.
Link to this sermon
Billy opens his sermon, "The Necessity of Forgiveness", with a thumbnail sketch of how Jason Robarts in the 1965 movie "A Thousand Clowns", stood on the corner of 51st and Lex in New York City offering apologies to everyone who passed him by. To his surprise, 75% of them accepted his apology. Billy uses this opening to reinforce the fact that most of us, at one time or another, have lived through an event that was sad, unfair or even cruel. These events instill anger and regret in our lives, and if we can't let them go a smoldering resentment eats away at our happiness and joy. Why then do we have such a hard time forgiving and letting go? As Billy said: Why do we continue to take the poison hoping someone else will die? This is a good time to pause and think about someone or something that you have not forgiven and ask yourself why not and what it would take for forgiveness to occur. Remember, forgiveness starts with a conscious decision to forgive!
Billy then talks about the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60) and his last words asking God to forgive the people stoning him. Using this, and Jesus's last words on the cross as a powerful metaphor of what forgiveness will do for us, Billy explains, "It set's us free, it gives us a new life."
After discussing all the negative things anger and resentment can do to our body, Billy humorously talks about our 2 million ancestors of the last 21 generations that have contributed to our gene pool to make us what we are. These ancestors led good lives and bad lives, righteous lives and evil lives but however they lived, they all contributed to our genetic makeup. We are a part of all of them and we can't choose the qualities that we want, so we are all things, whether we like it or not.
Billy then offers two other reasons why we should consider forgiving. First, we are all human and we all mess up. As Caroline Myss, American author, mystic and medical intuitive, states: "There is someone on a psychiatrist's couch because of you too." And finally, everyone is a child of God, doing the best they can at this moment in their lives. As God said in the Talmud's version of the Exodus story when the angels closed the Red Sea on the Egyptians, "The Egyptians are my children too."
In recovery, letting go of resentments is a major challenge for most 12 steppers. Bill Wilson suggests unforgiven resentments are the major factor driving addicts back into their addiction. With this backdrop, I offer you my perspective on forgiveness. A Course in Miracles suggests that as we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or "forgive." (Preface, page xi) don Miguel Ruiz, in his famous book of Toltec wisdom, "The Four Agreements", suggests "Don't take Anything Personally." He states that nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own "dream". (italics and parenthesis mine). And lastly, as one very intellectual person stated: "There are more people wanting to take offense than people meaning to give offense." I wonder why?
Billy challenges us as he closes his sermon to stay with the church family when we get hurt, as we inevitably will. Give yourself time to grow in Grace, grow into Love, and grow into Forgiveness.
Love and Blessings,