Mar 15

Lenten Book Club Opening Statement



"Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." --Ephesians 4:32 The Message

Dear friends and members of Saint Stephen,

I write to invite you to be part of our 4 week Lenten Book Club. As we did in the fall with Mark Alan Powell's Giving to God, we are inviting our congregation to read Pastor Adam Hamilton's Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go together.


How do I get the book?

1) You can find a good used (or new!) copy on Amazon, Thriftbook, or even Ebay or a variety of other places one buys books on-line.

2) You can also find the book on Audible or Kindle! 3) You can borrow the book from church--please ask Pr Rebecca how!

4) We have a few more copies for sale for again for $6--again, ask Pr Rebecca!

How can I read the book?

1) You can join a book group--we have 4 starting soon! There is a sign up at church --or just show up!

        a---Wednesdays starting March 20th at 10:30 am in the church library with Pr Rebecca & Dave McAlonan

        b--Time and start to be determined at Dunkin' Donuts at 442 Orchard Street in Antioch with Vicky Hill

        c--Thursdays starting March 14th at 5:30pm at Cafe Book with Dick Schlake 


        d--Thursdays starting March 21st at 7:00pm at John and Susan Cook's home at 6436 Gino Way in Fox Lake

2) If you can't join one of these groups you can start your own...just let us know when and where so we can publicize!

3) you can read the book on your own


4) you can read and discuss in an on-line format, here in this Discussion Forum.

We hope everyone will find a way to read the book--whether on your own or with others.  Please join us on this Lenten journey as we celebrate the forgiveness we have in Christ and learn how to practice the freeing gift of forgiveness in our own.


Peace and grace,

Pastor Rebecca

i look forward to sharing in this space with our Saint Stephen brothers and sisters!

Chapter 1

I'm sorry.

I forgive you.

How difficult are these words to say to one another? Obviously, they are; personal experience says so...

I'm a slow learner... It was so very hard to accept our Lord's forgiveness in my heart and gut...


Psalm 32 The Message

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans.

The pressure never let up;all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”

Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved,my sin disappeared.


Sin: missing the mark, straying from the path

I love this definition! It doesn't make me sound evil or nasty on purpose... It shows that i need to learn...


Psalm 38 The Message

3-4 I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months because of your accusation. My bones are brittle as dry sticks because of my sin. I’m swamped by my bad behavior, collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.


These verses remind me of my "guilty Lutheran" upbringing... and I'm so happy that i don't feel crushed with guilt for a long, long time after straying from the path...


Psalm 103:8-12 The Message

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins.


These verses are how i now view God: sheer mercy and grace...


Repentance: have a change of heart that results in a change of behavior

This is the hard part, right? a change in heart resulting in a change in behavior...


Jeremiah 31:33-34 The Message

33-34 “This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They’ll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree.


Wow! This is huge! That God chooses to forget our sin!

Ch 2

Colossians 3 The Message

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.


Meekness: Gentleness

Patience: Endurance


I think i need to put these words on post its and stick them on the bathroom mirror; perhaps that would help my awareness of what's important!

Even though this chapter dealt with marriage, the message applies to all relationships;

Especially thankfulness... when i count my blessings, the hurts, annoyances, slights, irritants tend to blur and disappear...


1 Corinthians 13 The Message

Love: Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others; Always looks for the best


Seek justice or offer mercy.

This sentence says a lot to me; Offer mercy! Quit rationalizing my own behavior!







Promotes healing

Repentance and forgiveness are works of love.

“Oh, God, help us to forgive others as we seek your forgiveness. God, help us to be reconciled in our relationships and faithful to them. Heal us, we pray, and restore to us the joy of your salvation. In the name of the One who gave His life for our forgiveness, Amen.”

Ch 3

This chapter offers some of the most important biblical guidance about relationships! When you have a grievance about another, don’t gossip! (However, you may need to confide and vent to a trusted friend.) Pray, and talk directly to the person who has caused your ill feelings. Scary? Sure. Biblical? Yes!


Matthew 18:21-22 The Message

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

Matthew 5:23-24 The Message

23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.


Remember your own shortcomings.

Assume the best.


Forgiveness:letting go of the right to retribution; internal release of anger, bitterness, desire for revenge; extension of mercy.


Church discipline

Matthew 18:15-17

15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.


Allow God to be responsible for justice.

All of us need healing and reconciliation, which leads to freedom.

Ch 4

God, please take these things from the past. Do something good with them and help me let them go. Amen; let is be so.


God, please bless _____. I’m assuming _____ doesn’t really mean what _____ said and that _____ doesn’t know it hurts. But I pray you would bless _____ and help _____ to become the person you want _____ to be. Make me a blessing to _____. Help me to let go of my frustration, disappointment, hurt.


Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace, taking as He did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will so that I may be reasonable happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next. Amen; let it be so.


Genesis 50:15-21 The Message

After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?”

16-17 So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?”

When Joseph received their message, he wept.

18 Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, “We’ll be your slaves.”

19-21 Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.


2 ways: Tell the one who hurt you; tear down the wall yourself.


Remember your own shortcomings.

Assume the best.


Seek to understand.


Romans 8:26-28

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.


Lots to think about, ponder, pray… Trust in God to carry our load,… Trust in God to work our work into something good… What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best? No contest…

© 2019 Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 1155 Hillside Avenue, Antioch IL 60002 / 847-395-3359

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