May 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm #2067Forgiving VictimParticipant
3.4 Undergoing Atonement: Gibeonites
As part of our imaginative exercise about Atonement, in this session we are going to imagine ourselves in a difficult political situation. We’ll be part of a small tribe that feels they have been wronged by King David.
Receiving a new story
Share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous Module showing up in your lives.
I deserve an apology!
Share your answers to the following questions:
- Can you recall a time when you felt a group you identified with had been wronged? (Possible group identities are gender, nationality, ethnicity, race, family, religion, local church, etc.)
- Did you feel that your group was entitled to an apology or some form of restitution?
- What finally satisfied you? Or are you still waiting for satisfaction?
- What is your relationship to the one who offended your group like now?
Food for thought
- Let’s begin with the exercise James offered us at the end of the video by trying to remember a time when we have been forgiven for something. Did you ask to be forgiven or was forgiveness offered without your asking for it? What did it feel like?
- Turning to the story about the Gibeonites, what jumped out at you?
- Where do you have questions?
- What seemed really important to you?
- In this political story, King David needs to satisfy a blood debt he owes the Gibeonites. In other words, he needs to make a sacrifice to appease the Gibeonites. What do you think James means when he says that the angry divinity in the story, needing sacrifice, is the Gibeonites – us!
- How does that impact how we understand who the angry divinity at Christ’s crucifixion was?
- In what ways do we play the part of an angry divinity with one another?
- What does it mean to say that God is not in rivalry with us when it comes to how God responds to our anger?
In what ways has this look at the Gibeonites and the passage in Romans revealed God’s un-ambivalent goodness and generosity towards us?
December 18, 2015 at 10:28 am #46653
Receiving a new story —
Forgiveness preceding ‘transgressions or sins’ is an aspect of Atonement liturgy that’s hovered close to my consciousness in recent days. James wrote in “Jesus the Forgiving Victim” (page 243):
“It is the process of atonement or forgiveness which opens up the possibility of imagining in what ways we might have fallen short, or be falling short, of what we are called to be and to become. Transgressions, sins, are derived from forgiveness, which massively precedes them enabling us to understand them to be understood as that which can be forgiven.”
My wife and I traveled with another couple last weekend to Galena, Illinois for that small town’s Christmas Luminaria Festival. Beginning at twilight, Galena’s residents lighted thousands of luminaria candles in white paper bags throughout the hilly streets above the central business district nestled below in the river valley where we were enjoying the festivities. The luminaria twinkling above us in the winter sky contributed greatly to our weekend celebration.
One person at a time lighting their candle in the hills above made the darkening night into something entirely new, not just candles in the dark, but visible light stitching together the surrounding darkness. I remembered what James wrote about atonement being preceded by forgiveness. Perhaps when I accept responsibility for a personal sin, it’s like lighting a luminaria candle. Striking the match corresponds to an admission of the transgression in the darkness of rivalrous striving against, rather than loving, my neighbor. The candle is God’s preceding forgiveness which perfectly offsets my hurtful or thoughtless act. Candles burn for minutes or hours just as repentance proceeds through time before it is accomplished over time.
The light of God’s loving atonement precedes our sin freeing us to repent. The light of God’s loving atonement never goes out. The spark from God that brings a flame to the candle I light is one stitch in a sparkling new material robing the world, like the elegant robe of light that materialized last weekend one candle at a time in the hills above Galena.
Forgiveness in advance is the thread that stitches us together. Lighting candles of repentance reveals both the rivalry of mimetic darkness and God’s presence forgiving that rivalry from within. The beauty of uncounted millions of candles lighted by sparks of God’s unceasing forgiveness calls us into love and respect, one for the other.
December 26, 2015 at 6:36 am #46659
On several occasions, I belonged to our local union chapter’s collective bargaining teams when, from time to time, management and employees resolved disputed, regional office issues by negotiating. When one of these matters reached the bargaining stage, our members always felt wronged and entitled to an apology, yes, but also to specifically enumerated changes in the “conditions of employment.”
Negotiations proceeded through one of two possible approaches: position-based or interests-based. Position-based bargaining pits the parties against each other as opponents where one wins, and the other loses. Position-based bargaining resolves contentious issue elements into offenses, satisfactions, apologies and demanded changes for a future relationship. Position-based bargaining bases outcomes on power and often on duplicity. Issue resolution frequently is tenuous requiring return trips to the bargaining table.
Interest-based negotiations, on the other hand, begin by recognizing that while the parties occupy opposing positions on particular issues, nevertheless if they work at it the parties will discover that they also share common, work-related interests. Negotiations begin by identifying mutual interests, and then the parties base their negotiated agreements on these accepted grounds. Each of the parties must be satisfied with the way any final agreement recognizes and resolves all the significant issues.
Interest-based negotiations require more skill and time than position-based. However, in the long run, they are more efficient because, if the agreement skillfully addresses all aspects of an issue, then negotiations resolve underlying causes, eliminating the need for future time-consuming, return trips to the bargaining table. As illustrated by the passage on the Gibeonites, I would say David favored interest-based negotiating techniques!
December 30, 2015 at 5:37 am #46660
Turning to the story about the Gibeonites, what jumped out at you?
Saul broke a treaty Joshua made with the Gibeonites, who then demanded satisfaction from David, Saul’s successor. Although some see him as such, God is not a ‘harmed party’ in this story. No. The story points to God, who is forever reaching out to flawed humanity in atonement. John remembers the story of the Gibeonites revenge in his Gospel. Paul writes about it in Chapter 8 of his Letter to the Romans.
The story about the Gibeonites is not about placating a wrathful God. No. This story points to God’s loving willingness to accommodate furious humanity. Thinking about the story, writing about it, pushes me toward full acceptance of the fact of God reaching toward us in atonement. The change in my thinking is like a spreading baptism beginning with my intellect. A baptism that reverses a lifetime of conditioned emotional and behavioral response.
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