Resurrection Lutheran Church, Channahon, Illinois is very thankful for Luther College's FoRGo project! The Rev. Dr. Michael Barry visited Resurrection on a Sunday, preached the sermon, and led a workshop on the healing power of forgiveness.
Dr. Barry's presence and presentation empowered Resurrection to move beyond a general sense that Christians are supposed to forgive to actually feeling equipped and ready to practice forgiving. His personal and professional experience helped us see the power of forgiveness that comes from the heart, and his dedication to the art of forgiveness also helped us move past some of the myths and stumbling blocks that get in the way of forgiveness.
In the few days since Dr. Barry's visit, there has been an increase in heartfelt and open conversation about forgiveness. His work cites the need for this kind of dedication to forgiveness and this subsequent spike in forgiveness conversation in this congregation confirms that there is a yearning for it. For example, one gentleman who experienced the FoRGo Project immediately ordered Dr. Barry's book The Forgiveness Project, sent me (his pastor) excited texts about what he learned, and also talked to one of his neighbors about Dr. Barry's message and inspired him to get the book, too, when his neighbor was sharing some struggles within his family. In short, the FoRGo Project really sparked something life-giving within and through this congregation.
The FoRGo Project's message is grounded in sound theology, science, research, and personal and professional experience. Consequently, it hit home for many of the people in this church and in such a way that it moved people to address unforgiveness and to move toward becoming students of forgiveness. Resurrection Lutheran Church is grateful for the FoRGo Project and for the fruit it seems promising to bear.
Forgiveness is a gift from God and a way we experience God's grace. This podcast is a series of reflections on Rev. Dr. Michael Barry's sermon and Forgiveness Project presentation at Resurrection on September 24, 2017. He is the author of the book The Forgiveness Project and co-director of Luther College's FoRGo Project. He blessed us with his research, faith, and experience. This audio podcast tries to share what he brought to us.
Last week, Rev. Dr. Michael Barry visited our youth group at Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Delano, Minnesota. Sixteen high school students and three adults were captivated by Dr. Barry’s story, research, and advice about forgiveness in our lives.
As a man of faith, Dr. Barry firmly believes that forgiveness is a crucial element in Christ’s story and the foundation of Christianity. Because we are forgiven and cleansed of all our sins by God’s love for us, so should we employ forgiveness in our lives. The youth learned that forgiveness is transformational, and can be a healthy release from an unnecessary burden. After listening to Dr. Barry’s personal experience of opening his heart to forgive a loved one, youth and adults shared their stories of heartache, and how they were able to forgive. Breaking down the obstacles of pride, vulnerability, blame, and abandonment were themes throughout the stories of forgiveness.
Dr. Barry cautioned that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. This important distinction really hit home with some of the youth, who now realize the importance of self-care and preservation beyond the forgiveness stage. We are so grateful to Dr. Barry and the FoRGo project for opening up a conversation in our youth group that is such an important part of living healthy lives.