Repentance and forgiveness

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         This is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be practiced in his name for all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
                  —Luke 24.46-47

Yes, I changed, it, didn’t I? Luke says repentance and forgiveness are to be “proclaimed” or “preached.” That suggests our work is to tell people they should repent and be forgiven. But they don’t need any more people telling them to change their ways. They need people to show them how. They need us to practice repentance, to turn to God, and to turn to God again, and yet again to return. They need us to practice forgiveness, to forgive all their sins, all of them, as absolutely and unconditionally as God does. In forgiveness, letting go and turning to God, we embody resurrection and make it real. Resurrection doesn’t happen as long as we hold on to sins and wrongdoing, or judgment or bitterness about them. Resurrection happens when we allow ourselves and others to start anew. When we set aside our demands and expectations and just love, Christ is risen indeed. The only way to preach Christ and proclaim resurrection is to love. We proclaim resurrection throughout the world by practicing repentance and forgiveness.

May the Risen Christ daily raise us from our tombs of shame, regret and judgment, and set us free. May the living Christ return us every moment to the arms of God.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at)

Joy and disbelieving

         …In their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering…
                  —Luke 24.41

it’s all here at once,
joy and disbelieving,
dullness and wonder.

Let my joy flower,
my disbelieving keep on wondering.
Give me the faith to watch in amazement,
to finally know what I know,
to rejoice before I understand.

Wonder, lead me
where I wouldn’t go without you.
O soul, drag me into the dance,
guided in your arms,
looking into my Savior’s eyes,
without even knowing it.


Doubting Thomas

The marsh is drowned in obsidian water,
cattails bent and shot and shredded,
matted grasses the color of cardboard,
the color of not caring,
the last of the snow shadows dying alone,
trees still shrugging, empty handed.
There’s not a fleck of green here,
only this roughly woven shroud of death,
ice in the morning, and still a biting wind.

Why would your hands believe in spring?
Not in some faithful promises
but actual relief—your fingers
this morning you should have worn gloves,
your flesh this moment hurting?

Then don’t belittle those who doubt.
Thomas, your twin, you yourself,
who also once needed to believe,
don’t chide the ones who need to touch,
who need to feel: they ache from cold.
They ache for more than hope,
for what in some moment
maybe you alone can give them:
something they can put their hand in,
which alone might bring them back to life,
no miracle, no brilliant faith, but just
a little bit of softness, warmth, or light.


Lonely Thomas

         “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,
         and put my finger in the mark of the nails
         and my hand in his side,
         I will not believe.”

                  —John 20.25

Thomas longed for a Christ he didn’t have,
aware of the great space between them,
not driven to fill it.

There is a loneliness of the Spirit,
not sadness, not pathetic at all,
but a homesickness,
remembering what we long for,
patient with our unknowing,
and the dullness of our knowing,
trusting there is always more of the Beloved
than we can sense,
a great, wide solitude
we won’t clutter with less or other.

Such spaciousness leaves room
for those deep sighs
and profound joys
and mostly those calm, roomy smiles
of the saints.


I send you

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As God has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
                  —John 20.21-23

Jesus didn’t come from the dead to prove a point.
He came to give us his spirit.

He breathes his life into us as God did to Adam.
We are re-created, new.

Old hurts and resentments have died.
We are born free of them, without fear, only love.

The power of Christ’s forgiveness lives in us.
When we forgive, it is God breathing forgiving through us.

When we fail to forgive, we cling to old sins
and we fall back into death. The Breath leaves us.

As God sent Jesus to save the world with forgiveness
God sends us for this same purpose.

When we forgive, the Breath of God lives in us.
Therefore we risk much, for we cannot die.

Beloved, breathe your forgiveness into me, each breath:
breathing forgiveness, breathing forgiveness.


Thomas’ prayer

         Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands.
                  Reach out your hand and put it in my side.
                  Do not doubt but believe.”

         Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
                  —John 20.27-28

I don’t want proof.
I want Jesus.

I don’t need pious beliefs,
a palace of certainty.

I just want you,
whether or not I know it.

Not my feeling,
but your presence.

Let my reaching be my faith,
my hunger for you, my wisdom;

my unknowing be my looking,
my doubt my journey.

I would rather always wonder
than lose my longing for you,

my Lord, and my God,
my Presence, my Beloved.



Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Enough of Easter lilies,
trumpets and choirs and angels
and their improbable wings
folded tight in the tomb.

Let me find glory in a single bird
working a bare branch,
your breath that wakens me,
in brown grass turning slowly green,
glory enough.


Weather Report

drably disguised
as grey days and banal tasks,
as a high pressure front
of chores and deadlines
pushes the warm, moist air of heaven
out of our awareness.
The sun will rise beyond our ken,
unless attentiveness breaks through.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at)

Christ is rising

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
Easter sunrise service
we gather on snow frozen hard.
We shiver and shuffle for warmth.
The sun is late coming up
over the bare trees.

Resurrection seldom comes in a flash,
Jesus in the flowery garden.
The woman in labor knows.
This path can only lead to life,
but it is a long one.
It takes time for God
to make sorrow into joy,
fear into wisdom,
love into victory,
death into life.
Justice gestates.
Only gradually, with great trust,
does this life become the next,
with much practice and failure,
many jugs of spices left again
beside the empty tomb.
Day by day the bread is kneaded,
the light folded into our hearts.

Don’t stop watering the bare soil
where seeds lie working.

Christ is rising.
He is rising indeed.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at)

Christ is risen

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed!

Crucified and risen Christ,
flood my heart with your light
and my soul with your living presence,
that I may trust the victory of God,
the victory of love over violence,
of life over death.
By your rising give me courage
to know that evil and oppression,
though they seem to reign,
have already been defeated.
You who bear me in your heart,
you have raised me up with you,
and set me free from my fear,
free from shame and despair,
free from all that would imprison me,
from all that would keep me
from loving perfectly.

Loving Christ,
I have died in you and risen in you.
May I walk with courage
into this new life.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at)

Holy Saturday

               …there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
                  —Revelation 8.1

God taking it all in.
Heaven inhaling.

Even God has to wait
for love to gestate.

Gracious host even to pain,
staying with it,

the silence, the remorse,
the lack of remorse.

Forgiveness doesn’t come
from a shallow breath.


Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

To receive Unfolding Light as a daily e-mail,
write to me at unfoldinglight (at)

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