Get Astounding Weight Loss and Peace at Being Forgiven

Get Astounding Weight Loss and Peace at Being Forgiven

We need a weight loss program for the heart, but we can’t do it alone, so a vicar steps in and declares, ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’  

I could feel a kind of weight leave my body. I had carried this tension and held this stress for so long that it felt normal. But once I heard the words ‘You are forgiven. Be at peace.’ it was like someone had lifted a huge burden off my shoulder.

We’re not talking about a few extra pounds of weight you might be carrying because you overindulged at Christmas. It’s more the emotional weight of events that have happened to you.

The kilograms of guilt, the burden of shame, the gravity of regret. It’s the anger and resentment festering away and eating at your soul. The bitterness that still snipes in your silence.

This burden can be so heavy that it feels like it pushes you into the ground. You groan under the yoke of what you carry.

The Vicar and the weight loss program

One of the most powerful words I have ever come across in the theological world is the word Vicarious.

It comes from Latin, and at its simplest, it means to ‘serve instead of someone or something else.’

If you act in someone’s stead, you take his or her place, at least temporarily. The oldest meaning of vicarious, which dates to the first half of the 1600s, is “serving instead of someone or something else.” The word vicarious derives from the Latin noun vicis, which means “change,” “alternation,” or “stead.” Vicis is also the source of the English prefix vice- (as in “vice president”), meaning “one that takes the place of.” Vicarious Has Latin Roots

Recently I have been attending an Anglican church, and in the service, there is a very special moment.

Here are the words we use and who says them

The congregation kneels

The minister then says

‘In God there is forgiveness.’

Silence

Everyone says these words

‘Loving and all-seeing God, forgive us where we have failed to support one another and
to be what we claim to be.
Forgive us where we have failed to serve you;
and where our thoughts and actions have been
contrary to yours, we ask your pardon.’

The presiding priest says

‘God forgives us; be at peace.’

This is high drama. As good as any dramatic production on any stage.

We are invited into a courtroom scene where we acknowledge our failings. We are all guilty of crimes against God, humanity, ourselves, and creation. We have a large overflowing backpack of  instances when we have knowingly and unknowingly ‘turned our gaze in the wrong direction.’

Sin is not a distance, it is a turning of our gaze in the wrong direction. Simone Weil, Waiting for God

We stand in the dock, waiting for the sentence to be handed down.

A priest stands, strides to the middle of the courtroom and looks us in the eye, and says, ‘God forgives you; be at peace.’

Every Sunday, I watch this drama play out, and I fix my eyes on the Vicar of St. Andrews.

Sarah, our Vicar, moves to the center of the church. I watch her face. It’s between me, her, and God. She declares forgiveness.

It’s compassionate, but it’s also said with an authoritative conviction that soothes the heart and shakes the heavens.

I sense in my spirit something of a visceral relief. I am known, loved, held, embraced, and relieved of the heavy backpack I carry. I dance a little lighter.

A few weeks ago, Sarah had just finished the declaration when a little 15-month-old girl’s voice said from the rear of the church, ‘oh oh.’ Sarah struggled to keep her joy, and her laughter contained. The little girl was her daughter.

It’s the childlike ‘oh oh’s’ we have. The small and the big oh oh’s are welcomed by a God who knows all and sees all and so can forgive all.

I need someone to regularly declare over me forgiveness.

A voice, a real person. Someone with flesh, bone, and dustiness, to be a representative of truth. I need a Samaritan to enter my ditch and do something that I cannot do for myself.

The peace we find

‘Be at peace.’

If you read through the Bible, there are many encounters women and men have with God or angelic beings.

In every instance, the immediate response is fear, but the response from God or the angelic being is one of reassurance and words given such as ‘Be at peace.’

So many people have an image of a vengeful, angry God. That God has an accountant’s ledger book and notes down every single sin and dishes out consequences for our failings.

But the image we find in Jesus is one of knowing our frailties and speaking to the hurt with the words ‘Be at peace.’

When we are in a state of repentance (change of mind), we know we deserve justice, but we pray for mercy.

We are gifted grace. ‘Be at peace. You are forgiven.’

God’s grace is the seedbed which forgiveness springs from.

Hearing the words

Safe people say safe words.

I think we all need a safe person with whom we can share our overloaded backpacks. Someone who won’t come on a mission of F.A.S.S. – Fixing, Advising, Saving, Setting one straight.

We need a vicar. A vicarious one. A person who can be the Christ and declare the truth.

‘You are forgiven: Be at peace.’

Please be that ‘Safe person’ for someone else and help them lose weight.

Quotes to consider

  • We can only live inside the flow of forgiveness if we have stood under the constant waterfall of needed forgiveness ourselves. Richard Rohr
  • If it is true that forgiveness is the most therapeutic fact in all of life, then guilt must be the most destructive. We are simply not built for it. David Seamands
  • We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges. T. D. Jakes
  • Forgiving is not a single event but a gradual process of increasing compassion and reducing resentment. Shirley Glass
  • Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it – Doe Zantamata
  • The counselor who merely instructs his bitter client to decide to forgive the offending partner has failed to promote the maturity that comes through relying on Christ alone. Larry Crabb
  • The missing element is reevaluating the event to see it as God sees it—as unfortunate but irrelevant to one’s security and significance. Making the shift from the wrong perspective to the right one is central to the work of forgiveness. Larry Crabb
  • The heart and the key to the Christian message is the vicarious nature of the life of Christ. Yes, He died for you, but He also lived as you and performed on your behalf. David Riddell

Questions to answer

  1. What is in your backpack that you would like to shed?
  2. Who is a safe person for you that can declare forgiveness over you?
  3. Forgiveness is not a single event but an ongoing process. What helps, and what hinders that continuing process?

Further reading

This has been an 8 part series on repentance (change of mind). Here are the other parts

  1. Facing the Black and Finding some Light

  2. I Want to Make Amends

  3. Accepting Consequences and Finding Paradise

  4. True Repentance doesn’t Demand or Expect forgiveness

  5. Embracing the Pain and Finding the Christ light 
  6. A Change In Behavior, A Change In the Mind

  7. Do you Need Space and Time to Heal?

  8. Get Astounding Weight Loss and Peace at Being Forgiven

Barry Pearman

Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

 

 

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