Thursday, December 10, 2009

Extending Grace and Forgiveness to Those Who Harm You - Part Two

C. Henry Smith presentation

Part Two (See Part One in the last post here just below)

II. Choosing not to press charges can be the first step in forgiving those who harm you.

•In Scott’s death, his family said that this choice was very difficult and that there were times when they regretted it but they were glad that they chose to show grace to the teenager.
◦This choice allowed them to heal and know that they made a better situation out of a difficult one.
•In accidents, it is often the case that the person at fault is already regretting his or her actions regardless of if they could have been changed.
◦The pastor that hit the car Hollis was riding in did not do anything wrong other than failing to be completely observant.

■Anyone could have made that mistake and now he has to live with it every day of his life.
◦Forgiveness also creates bonds that otherwise would not be able to form.
■In the Amish shooting, Roberts’ family was able to mourn side by side with the Amish.
■His wife was among the few outsiders that were invited to one of the funerals.

◦When victims do not take an offensive approach and attack the family of the person who did the wrong, the family of the offender is allowed to cope and grieve as well as realize that they are not necessarily at fault.

(Transition: While forgiveness and grace steer toward emotional healing, they also are essential parts of the Christian faith.)

III. Now, you may be thinking that situations involving the Amish and pastors require different expectations but all Christians are called to show mercy.

•Bill Pelke struggled deeply with making room for both his hatred and his faith when his grandmother was killed.
•Ruth Pelke, a 78 year old woman, was robbed and murdered when she brought four teenage girls to her house to teach a Bible lesson.
◦One of these girls, Paula Cooper, was convicted of stabbing Ruth 33 times.

■A year after the murder, Cooper, at age 16, was sentenced to death row.
◦Ruth’s grandson, Bill Pelke battled for a long time with the idea of her murderer being put to death.
■At first he was glad and thought she was getting what she deserved.
■Then, after thinking through the words Jesus said during his crucifixion “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”, he realized forgiving Cooper was the only way to bring peace to himself.
■Pelke then fought to have Cooper removed from death row.
■Her sentence was changed from the death penalty to 60 years in prison as a result of Pelke’s work.
■To this he responded “Revenge is not the answer. It’s never the answer. The answer is love and compassion for all of humanity.”
◦In the Lord’s Prayer it says “Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us.
■Why should God forgive us if we cannot extend similar forgiveness to others?


I. In conclusion, the cases of Scott and Hollis need to make us realize that accidents and flaws in judgment can happen to anyone.

•The bible says “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”
◦Wouldn’t you like to think that if you were in a similar situation as the teenager or the old pastor, mercy and forgiveness would be extended to you?

II. While Roberts and Cooper do not deserve to be forgiven, which of us does?

•By the Amish community and Bill Pelke offering grace to the families of those who hurt them, both sides were given the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
•This grace is not unlike the grace the old hymn Amazing Grace proclaims.

◦The third verse reads:
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace has brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
•Go and extend Grace to others as it has been extended by God unto you.


“Amish grandfather: 'We must not think evil of this man'
from powerfulnews dot com 5 Oct. 2006 and 26 March 2009 GO here

Burke, Burke. "Amish Search for Healing, Forgiveness After 'The Amish 9/11’ Religion News. 4 Oct. 2006. Also, 26 March 2009 GO here

Dougherty, Emily. “After murders, families find a healing path.” Mennonite Weekly Review 23 March 2009. 26 March 2009. GO here

McElroy, Damien. “Amish killer's widow thanks families of victims for forgiveness”. 17 Oct 2006. 26 March 2009. GO here

Newton, John. “Amazing Grace”. Hymnal: A Worship Book. Brethren Press: 1992.

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