Luke 7:36-50, 8:1-3
Rev. Tina Walker-Morin
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God, our strength and our redeemer.
This morning I have a message for you about forgiveness.
I don’t know if anyone has read the title of my sermon this morning, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” but if you have and if you are like me, you are probably now singing the Tina Turner song. Sorry.
What does love have to do with forgiveness anyway? This second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it?
Let us turn to our scripture to find out. Today we meet Jesus at the house of the Pharisee Simon. Jesus takes his place at the table but he does not sit in a chair like we all do today; rather he reclines with his head close to the table with feet sticking out. He is stretched out which enables this woman in the scripture to “approach Jesus’ feet. Her actions are emotionally charged and bold. She enters a home where she is not welcome, disrupts the banquet, and publically behaves with improper intimacy” towards Jesus. Simon, the Pharisee “is offended by what he sees. The woman is a sinner who doesn’t belong at the dinner.” 
Why is this woman there, who is this woman and why does she come to Jesus? The scripture which follows it alludes to Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out. This woman could be Mary Magdalene. She comes to Jesus seeking forgiveness.
Jesus explains the situation to Simon through a parable about forgiveness
Parable in the passage:
41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:41-48).
Jesus tells this parable to enlighten Simon and help him see this woman in a new light. After the parable, Simon addresses Jesus as teacher, but the woman can also be Simon’s teacher… “From her he can learn about the powerful love that comes from forgiveness.”
So what’s love got to do with it? We could translate v. 47 “her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love” as understanding her love as the basis for receiving forgiveness. However, this contradicts the parable, where forgiveness leads to love. It is because of her showing her great love that Jesus is sure that she has been forgiven. 
This woman understands God’s great love, can feel that love, and accepts and returns God’s love. She teaches Simon about the depth of God’s forgiveness and its powerful effect.
As Christians, how can we forgive? After the shooting at the Charleston AME Church so many people were surprised and impressed with the victims’ families who stood up and faced that cold blooded killer and said, “I forgive you”.
The Rev. Norvel Goff Sr., who was the interim pastor, told the congregation that he is often asked why so many members of the church have been able to forgive. He said members deal with their grief and everything else by living one day at a time.
"We've been preaching about (forgiveness) in Sunday school and in bible school," he said. "We do it because our God commands us to 'love your neighbor as yourself.' …Our faith is stronger than fear. We still have the audacity and temerity to believe that love overtakes hate."
How do we forgive?
Renowned psychologist, Dr. Worthington writes that “Christianity is the cross where justice and mercy intersect.” I believe at that intersection is forgiveness. In Worthington’s book, Five Steps to Forgiveness, he states that “Forgiveness requires both letting go and pulling toward. A forgiver must be motivated to release the resentment, hatred, and bitterness of unforgiveness. A forgiver releases the desire to avoid or seek revenge against the perpetrator. But the act of pulling toward- of reaching out toward the transgressor-is sharper. It pricks the heart. A forgiver replaces unforgiveness with a sense of nonpossessive love and wishing the perpetrator well…Forgiveness means giving a fist that embodies freedom and love.”
I want to be clear that we must also be mindful that forgiveness is not about approving or pardoning of the transgression, rather it is about moving beyond the transgression.
To move beyond the transgression to forgiveness, Worthington offers the acronym REACH as the five steps.
Recall the Hurt. “When we are hurt, we often try to protect ourselves by denying our hurt. To heal, we must recall the hurt as objectively as possible. Don’t rail against the person who hurt you, expend fruitless effort in finger wagging, waste time wishing for an apology that will never be offered, or dwelling on your victimization. Instead simply admit that a wrong was done to you.”
Empathize. Empathy is seeing things from another person’s point of view. To forgive, try to feel the transgressor’s feelings. Empathy puts a human face on suffering. How would he or she explain the harmful acts?
Offer the Altruistic gift of forgiveness Have you ever harmed or offended a friend, parent, or partner who later forgave you? Think about your guilt. Then consider the way you felt when you were forgiven. When you think long and hard about this, you might be willing to be selfless and give the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt you.
Commit publicly to forgive If you make your forgiveness public, you are less likely to doubt it later. Tell a friend, partner, or counselor that you have forgiven the person who hurt you.
Hold on to forgiveness When you doubt whether you have forgiven, there are many ways to stop forgiveness from sliding back into anger, hurt, or thoughts of vengeance.
Again it is:
Recall the hurt
Empathize with the one who hurt you
Altruistic gift of forgiveness, offer
Commitment to forgive, make
Hold on to the forgiveness
So what’s love got to do with it? Everything, because at the heart of forgiveness is love, love for ourselves and love for and from God. Remaining in a place of anger and hurt for something a person has done to you creates a darkness in your soul.
Where there is darkness there is no light. To open up and allow the light of Christ in, we have to work towards forgiveness. When you are able to move on, to forgive someone you are not accepting, condoning, or approving of the behavior against you rather you are releasing the pain and suffering. You are making room for the light of Christ to come into your heart.
Tina Turner is best known for her pop albums but she has also more recently created a new album and project called BEYOND. “The project BEYOND is about another love, a love of coming together, a love of spreading it in a different way across the planet.” One of the songs titles on this new album is “Power of Forgiveness”. Turner states that “What this music LOVE WITHIN hopefully will do is to teach people to find out, what they are born with. Love is inside all of us. Everyone has it deep within. We can learn to connect with it and how to use it. It is like when you want light you have to lit a candle, or plug a lamp in the wall. You have to do some work. There is a learning - We come here to learn and we must get to a certain spiritual plateau to learn how to love unconditionally and to actually find out, what it means. It means to overcome whatever is done to you. Once you have overcome there will be more world peace” 
May we have peace within ourselves and spread that peace and forgiveness to others.
 Tannehill, Robert E. Luke (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries:1996) 135.
 Tannehill, Robert E. Luke (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries:1996), 136.
 Tannehill, Robert E. Luke (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries:1996), 136.
 Worthington, Everett. Five Steps to Forgiveness, 4.
 Worthington, Everett. Five Steps to Forgiveness, 6.