It's one of the toughest commandments Jesus ever gives: Don't just forgive seven times. Try 77 times.

Thankfully, Canon Historian Jon Meacham has some guidance on this question — from American history, of course.

History tells us that we are our best selves when we act out of generosity, not greed—when we lend a hand, not when we clench our fists. And, yes, when we forgive, not when we harden our hearts and close our souls.

To forgive is to start anew. To forgive is to rise above, where God is. To forgive is to build, not to tear down.

But let us be clear: In the life of the nation, forgiveness is not about forgetting. Americans make this mistake all the time. With Huck Finn, we’d always prefer to light out for the Territories rather than do the hard work of putting our own lives and our common life in order.

We should resist that impulse. Remembrance is essential to our tradition. From the first Passover to the Last Supper, remembrance is why we are here. To remember is a sacred act—among the most sacred that you and I can undertake.

Forgetting is arguably a sin as consequential as hardness of heart. For it is only in remembrance that we can know what wrongs we must right—what perils we must avoid—and what injustices we must ameliorate.

Full text and video available over at our Digital Worship Library.


Kevin Eckstrom

Chief Public Affairs Officer