Derek Olsen, frequent contributor to Daily Episcopalian, writes in the Washington Post.
The concept of forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian proclamation, located in God’s own response to human violence. We believe that God took on humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, but that humanity in its blindness committed the ultimate act of disdain and disobedience towards this gift; rather than heeding his call to return to God’s paths of love, we chose to kill the very Author of Life. God’s response was not retribution nor revenge but the ultimate act of forgiveness — God transformed the cross and grave into a means for reconciling the world to himself, a reconciliation founded in and through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Forgiveness is not easy. Our hearts break at the loss of the Rev. Mary-Marguerite Kohn and Brenda Brewington. We have lost two loving people who died in the midst of serving their neighbors. In the aftermath of tragedy like this, forgiveness takes both outward and inward forms. We offer forgiveness outwardly, instinctively, following the example of Christ who, on the cross itself, asked forgiveness for the humanity intent upon his death. Inwardly we struggle, trying to make meaning of these events, trying to honoring the fallen, and beginning the process of wrestling with our own fear, grief and anger that will — in its own time — lead to full forgiveness.
Dr. Derek Olsen has a Ph.D. in New Testament and Homiletics at Emory University. Currently serving as Theologian-in-Residence at the Church of the Advent, Baltimore, he leads quiet days and is a speaker to clergy groups. He has taught seminary courses in biblical studies, preaching, and liturgics. A layman working in the IT field, Derek created and maintains the online Daily Office site The St. Bede’s Breviary. His reflections on life, liturgical spirituality, and being a Gen-X/Y dad appear at Haligweorc.