Your Sins Are Forgiven
By Stassi Cramm, Council of Twelve Apostles
…And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he [Jesus] was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” …Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” …And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” —Luke 7:37–39, 47, 50 NRSV, adapted
In my ministry I have the opportunity to travel all around the church. I am always surprised by the hospitality I receive. People open their homes, share their meals, give me rides—the list goes on. Because of their commitment to Christ, people graciously offer all they have to help me be comfortable so I can more fully engage in Christ’s mission.
Recently, a faithful member committed his days off to provide transport and support for three of us who were providing ministry at a mission center conference. On the surface, it looked like a simple act, but it was a priceless gift because it allowed each of us to focus more fully on the ministry God had called us to provide. When the weekend closed, we asked if we could compensate the person for the rental, the gas, or at least the snacks. The response was an emphatic no. He told us this was part of his contribution to support Christ’s mission.
I find it hard to receive such lavish generosity. It is humbling, and I feel unworthy. It makes me want to be more generous. I suspect this is the way the sinful woman of today’s scripture story felt as she fell at Jesus’ feet and offered the hospitality others had failed to share. Her act was one of genuine sacrifice, not out of duty but in response to the life-transforming, unconditional love and grace she freely had received from Jesus.
Prayer for Peace
Forgiving God, we regret the times we fail to respond with hospitality. We are grateful for your saving grace. Forgive us for times we fail to foster peace.
Spiritual Practice: The Jesus Prayer of Mercy
The Jesus Prayer is an ancient spiritual practice from Orthodox Christianity. It is a way of connecting with the gracious Spirit of Christ as we ask to receive his mercy. The prayer comes from the scripture of the blind man calling Jesus to heal him. Silently enter prayer and let your breath become slow and even. Greet God and then take up the prayer phrase: Lord, Jesus Christ (as you breathe in)…have mercy on me (as you breathe out). Prayerfully repeat these words for several minutes (or forty times). Breathe the presence of Christ into your mind, heart, and body. Be transformed as you receive the compassionate, peaceful heart of Jesus.
Today, God, I will accept and honor gracious hospitality when it is offered.