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Introduction, Session 3: The Gift Of Forgiveness

In "Wonderful Welcome," a Tapestry of Faith program

When I see the Ten Most Wanted Lists... I always have this thought: If we'd made them feel wanted earlier, they wouldn't be wanted now.

Eddie Cantor, 20th-century actor, singer and comedian

Forgiveness is the act of admitting we are like other people.

Christina Baldwin, Life's Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

Mother Terasa

Most children know what it is like to feel wronged or treated unfairly. Many, too, know the uncomfortable feelings that come when we realize we have hurt someone else. For either party in a conflict, it can seem natural and justified to feel angry or sad and to act accordingly. Yet "fighting back" or "staying mad" usually makes a conflict worse. Forgiveness is another option.

This session introduces forgiveness as an intangible gift with power to heal friendships and restore peace. The children consider forgiveness in the context of how they can respond if someone in Wonderful Welcome breaks the covenant the group made in Session 2.

The Wonder Box holds a picture of a dove carrying an olive branch, a common symbol for peace that also implies a willingness to forgive and a desire to be forgiven. A person who extends an olive branch is taking a brave step that puts two of our Unitarian Universalist Principles into action. Extending an olive branch says, "I affirm your inherent worth and dignity, as well as my own (first Principle)," and, "I want to promote justice, equity and compassion in our relationship (second Principle)."

In the story, The Prince and the Rhinoceros, one friend breaks another's trust. The other takes the brave step to seek an apology, and once the apology is received, completes the healing with forgiveness. Learning about forgiveness enriches the children's understanding of welcome. In a truly welcoming environment, people accept the possibility of conflict and understand how to use forgiveness to restore peace.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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