A Note On Forgiveness

Mar 2, 2018

The small hand-written note, left on my desk after a day of teaching sixth graders many years ago, caught my attention.

"Mr. Kline: I am sorry. Will you forgive me? David."

As students go, David was neither saint nor sinner. Or perhaps, in the words of Martin Luther, he was both, as all of us are. I carried that note in my wallet for years and later moved it to a file for safekeeping.

As I think about that student and the request he was making, two things immediately come to mind.

First, I had not required him to write it, as I had never believed that forcing students to apologize under threats of further punishment was a good idea.

And second, it occurs to me that I can't begin to remember what the incident itself was about. My memory of David is, and always will be, that of a young boy thinking about his behavior, sincerely wishing to make amends, and expressing that honest sentiment in a message from the heart.

For Christians, Lent is a time of looking inwards, reflecting on the behavior in our own lives and prayerfully confessing our faults.

Lent will end, not with a question, but with a thunderous answer: Yes, David, you -- and all of God's children -- are forgiven.

I'm Jim Kline, and that is my perspective.