Not All Who Wander Are Lost (4) Teach Me

Seventy-Seven Times, by Lauren Wright Pittman, A Sanctified Art, 2024.

Matt 18: 15-22
“Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Peter asks Jesus. Peter is our traveling companion through Lent. We are wandering and wondering with Peter as he wanders and wonders with Jesus.

Peter seems to be someone who really wants to get things right, someone who lives under the groaning weight of high standards. Being right, and doing what is right, and naming what is right seems to matter a great deal to Peter. Here, it seems he wants more information about the right thing to do, when it comes to forgiveness. Jesus responds, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Imagine having a sheet of paper on your fridge with the names of all the people you know. And each day, imagine having to check off the wrong someone had done you, and the forgiveness you offered. How tedious to keep score like that. It seems like this is not a very sustainable system of forgiveness. It seems like Jesus is creating a number so large that tracking that number with every person in your life who caused you offence would be absurdly fatiguing.

Jesus’ number is so large that Peter’s question itself becomes ridiculous. The economy of grace that Jesus lives by is such that we have to let go of counting. Forgiveness just is a way of living, for Jesus. It seems as though Jesus was inviting Peter into this new way of living. Instead of doing forgiveness, beforgiving, Peter!”

I wonder how Peter felt? Did it leave Peter feeling uncomfortable, floundering a bit? Now he must grapple, in each of his ongoing relationships, with what forgiveness looks like. Peter wanted answers, instead, this time, Jesus gave him inspiration.

I can hear just Peter ask. “Well, then, what does that mean, to be forgiving?”

Forgiveness, aside from being something Jesus tells us to do, is good for our health and our relationships. But the demand to forgive has also caused further harm to those who have been personally or systematically oppressed. It makes them feel like they have to be farther along in the healing process than they are.

What does being a forgiving people steeped in the economy of Jesus’ grace look like? What does a trauma-informed approach to talking about forgiveness look like? 

What does being a forgiving people steeped in the economy of Jesus’ grace look like? What does a trauma-informed approach to talking about forgiveness look like? 

I’m intentionally not going to answer that question, “What is forgiveness?” Peter had to ponder it awhile, and I think it is okay to leave us pondering as well. However, I do want to share a few resources with you on forgiveness at the end of this blog. And because the demand for forgiveness has been used to silence valid protests against abuse in both personal and structural relations, I would like to suggest a few things that forgiveness is not: 

Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is not reconciliation, only a step towards it. Forgiveness is not the suppression of emotions such as anger, grief, or sadness, although it does help to release them, in time. Forgiveness does not mean your trust has been restored and you are ready to continue as you were in the relationship. Forgiveness is not a magic wand that erases harm or consequences. Forgiveness, applied incorrectly, cannot decrease—but can increase—the emotional labour of the person who has been harmed. But forgiveness, extended when ready, does ease the load on our bodies and our relationships.

If you are curious, and would like to wonder a bit more about forgiveness in your life, here are a few links for you to explore, in your own time, in your own pace, giving yourself lots of care as you do so.

A fresh take on forgiveness: Matthew Ichihashi Potts on Forgiveness, Yale University Press Podcast.

Article by Maureen Salamon. Not just good for the soul—Science is pinpointing how forgiveness also benefits our brains and bodies. March 1, 2024. Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Deep peace and blessing,

Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, Church at Southpoint

Epiphany Refresher

PSSST! Did you miss any of Anne’s Epiphany series “God Calls Us?”
(1) God Calls us Beloved 
(2) God Calls Us By Name
(3) God Calls Us Into Discomfort
(4) God Gives Us Words and Asks Us to Listen 
(5) God Calls Us to Hope
(6) God Doesn’t Call Us to Go It Alone

Worship Calendar

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. Zoom link. Meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 password: 753319

Listen to Sermons
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Catch up on Anne’s recent blogs under “News” on our website,

Sun May 12   Mother’s Day
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Sun May 19 Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21

Sun May 26 
No service at the Sunnyside building
Brunches Together!

Sun Jun 2
Rev Rusty Edwards (CABF)
2 Cor 4:5-12

Sun Jun 9
2 Cor 4:13-5:1

Sun Jun 16
2 Cor 5:6-11, 14-17

Sun Jun 23
Baptisms, at A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre No service at the Sunnyside building

Sun Jun 30 
Fifth Sunday Brunches Together No service at the Sunnyside building

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

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Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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