Developing Spiritual Resilience through Forgiveness

This Sunday: Developing Spiritual Resilience through Forgiveness

Dear Friends,

I hope your September is going well!

I’m in Los Angeles this week at the Collaboratory gather of Citizens University with civil society groups from around the country seeking to find ways to work together.

Last Sunday we had a good discussion about pure motivation. Steve made a good point in the chat that while good intentions are critical, they need to be married up with wisdom.


In our check-in after the church service everyone shared just how overwhelmed they felt. It was noted that with the steady stream of bad news on the economic front and the bitterness on the political front simply reading the news can stress you out.

Others pointed out that this was the first September in two years when things were sort of back to normal and that normal meant people were traveling, going to work, and reengaging more every day. 

I know for me September has meant a bunch of travel and many additional projects. Let’s all make sure we take care of ourselves, get plenty of sleep, take deep breaths and know when to say no to things.

Power of Forgiveness

In our continuing effort to develop ways to be resilient in these challenging times, I’m going to speak this week about forgiveness. My focus will be on something I call pre-forgiveness and why I think it is critical for dealing with toxic situations.

I hope to see you all on Sunday at 5pm EST.



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Readings for The Coming Sunday

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!

23 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him 10,000 talents.” 25 He couldn’t pay, so the king ordered him sold for the debt, also his wife and children and everything he had.

26 “But the man fell down before the king, his face in the dust, and said, ‘Oh, sir, be patient with me and I will pay it all.’

27 “Then the king was filled with pity for him and released him and forgave his debt.

28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a man who owed him $2,000. and grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

29 “The man fell before him and begged him to give him a little time. ‘Be patient and I will pay it,’ he pled.

30 “But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and jailed until the debt would be paid in full.

31 “Then the man’s friends went to the king and told him what had happened. 

32 And the king called before him the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil-hearted wretch! Here I forgave you all that tremendous debt, just because you asked me to— 

33 shouldn’t you have mercy on others, just as I had mercy on you?’

34 “Then the angry king sent the man to the torture chamber until he had paid every last penny due. 

35 So shall my heavenly Father do to you if you refuse to truly forgive your brothers.”

The Crucifixion of Jesus

33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

Swedenborg Insight

“…those who have charity hardly notice the evil in another person, but instead notice all the goods and truths that are his; and on his evils and falsities they place a good interpretation. Of such a nature are all angels, it being something they have from the Lord, who bends everything evil into good.” (Secrets of Heaven 1079).

To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God. (Father Henri Nouwen)

What is my forgiveness? I like it. It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation, self-empowerment. All victims, all [who are] hurt, feel hopeless, feel helpless, feel powerless. I want everyone to remember that we cannot change what happened. That is the tragic part. But we can change how we relate to it.  (Eva Mozes Kor)

Recap of Last Week:

Last Sunday (9/25) we heard a great sermon on pure motivation as one aspect of spiritual resilience. Some of the great takeaways from the discussion were the importance of spending time in self-reflection to analyze one's "WHY", and the need for incremental progress in shifting one's motivations.

You can view the last sermon recording here.

This week many have celebrated Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year. We recognize this important holiday by joining our Jewish bretheren in an interfaith practice of reflection, repentance and renewal. May the coming year also bring you and your families sweetness, peace and prosperity!

Also, by popular demand, we wanted to see what community events or discussions may be of interest to the CHC members outside of the church services. Reach out to Kateryna Pyatybratova at with your ideas.

CHC YouTube Page 
Check Out the Podcast Series
CHC Facebook Page
Register for the Book Discussion

Overheard on the Grapevine

Interview with Jimmy Cox

Two weeks ago we had a chance to sit down with one of our longtime community members, Jimmy Cox, who some of you may recognize as the Wedding Coordinator at Church of the Holy City.

Jimmy recalled some of his best memories, having served at the Church for over 30 years, and shared some of his pearls of wisdom on faith (see quote above). The full interview can be found below.

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How did you come into the Church of the Holy City community?

I have known this community for over 30 years. I was with the Church when Rev. Baxter passed away...  I was friends with Jonathan Mitchell and that was 1995. I have been the wedding coordinator (covering over 300+ weddings now), but I've also painted spaces, coordinated events, and paid bills. Basically, whatever had to be done, I did it.

What are some of the most memorable events from your 30 year history with the Church? 

I've known Rich Tafel for 30 years ago, and actually this is his second hiatus at the church. When I first came to the Church, he was young and I was young. And he came there and helped me do some of the building tasks. 

So I was painting the Church one day, and then this young man [Rich] came and told me he was gonna come and help me paint. And true to form, he came and helped me. And so that's how, that's how I got to know Rev. Tafel!

What are some of the biggest transformations that you've seen take place since the time you started? 

I wish you could have seen the building 30 years ago when I first got there. Because when I first went there, the building had been empty for a while. The last minister died, and time just stood still. And then Reverend Mitchell came and we got the Church moving. . And then with Reverend Rich, things really went to the next level. 

Don't get me wrong, with everybody who came through there, they attempted to do something. But when the ball was dropped, Rich picked it up and we did this big overhaul for the last couple of years. But if you had come there 30 years ago and saw what I saw, you would think what we've done now is a miracle. 

Do you see yourself as part of the Swedenborgian community? How do you experience faith?

This Church is a part of my faith community. See, faith is all over. It doesn't matter what space you are in, faith is faith. The faith is within you, not within the space, it's within you. It's how you treat your fellow man. It's how you interact with each other. It's how you go on with your day to day life that's faith. 

Faith is not in the building. We come to the building to worship, but faith comes from within yourself.

How do you see us evolving as a community?

Well, it will evolve based on what and where that new space is, and how we can interact with the community in the new space. I started this interview with bittersweet feelings, since we have achieved what I wanted to achieve for the last 30 years. All the things I wanted to do have been done.

And now we are moving to a different location, and maybe a different direction. That represents my sadness in terms of the building, but hopefully it will do some good, and will come to good use in the future.

National News: Worth Checking Out

The Pastors Being Driven Out by Trumpism

Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the population in the United States and are part of the nation’s largest religious group.

But lately the movement is in crisis. The biggest issue is church attendance. Many churches closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and struggled to reopen while congregations thinned.

But a smaller audience isn’t the only problem: Pastors are quitting, or at least considering doing so.

Listed to the podcast episode below with guest Ruth Graham, a national correspondent covering religion, faith and values for The New York Times.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Community Corner:

Saying Goodbye to Rusty

Ross and Louise Capons are mourning the loss of Rusty, their faithful, beloved cat for the past 20 years. They had to have him put down on 9/23--about 6 weeks short of his 21st birthday--because his health had reached the point where life was no longer joyful but mostly painful. 

Below is an excerpt of a note from Ross Capon, on their memories of Rusty.

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It is hard to overstate his importance to the family. His Uncle Keith (Louise's brother) put it beautifully: "Oh so sad! I am so sorry to hear about Rusty. He was such an important family member, ever-present and even central to so many family gatherings and my memories of everything Shelton-Wadsworth for the past—15 years? Long time, and what an extraordinary being he was for everyone.” 

He originally lived a few blocks away, but adopted us in 2002. We returned him to his first home a few times, but he kept coming back. We figured any cat attracted to a home with a 2-year old (which William then was) must be special. The original owners (surprised to learn he was still alive) brought over his paperwork. He became very important to all of us, including our older sons then 12 and 15, and especially Louise. He would sit with our sons as they did homework. In his prime he earned the nickname, "Mayor of Shelton Street." He helped us get through some tough times.

In his youth, especially when the weather was windy, he would become frisky and race high enough up big Shelton trees (no longer standing) to make me worry if he could get down. (He did.) 

When Louise’s parents who lived a few doors away became more frail and slowly went down the Shelton sidewalk with their walkers, Rusty would sit on the walker while they pushed it. Our next-door neighbor Rose Melnicki wrote, "I remember more days than I can count just looking over and seeing the three of you sitting in the front yard - Rusty on Jeanne’s lap and sometimes on your’s, Louise. I remember more days than I can count looking out my front window and seeing Rusty hitch a ride on either Jack or Jeanne’s walker. I sometimes watched until they made it all the way to your house (or back) - it was that endearing to me. I always remember looking out my front window and watching how Rusty would trail behind and follow any one of you Capons when walking back/forth to Jack and Jeanne's. :)"

In recent years, he would walk on Louise as early as 5 am to make sure she was alive, and then go to sleep on our bed. 

He had adventures, in his prime never backing down from a fight with another cat or, in a few cases, a fox. He even had a fight with a fox within the past six months, and special thanks to Rose who alerted us to what was going on. 

He liked to drink water from our goldfish bowl but he never bothered the fish.

Bobby, our neighbor who just started 7th grade and has mowed our lawn this year (under Rusty's supervision!) texted, "I just want to send my condolences about Rusty and wanted you to know that whenever I saw him he brought a smile to my face."  

The pain of losing him was slightly eased by helpful timing. He had a terrible seizure the morning of 9/22 which showed us it was time. The vet had time on 9/23 which meant that our three sons (including William two hours away in St. Mary's City) were able to come the evening of 9/22 for dinner in the basement with Rusty. He appreciated seeing them. William helped reduce our pain by reading the hilarious story of the 1969 Easter Mass Incident

Louise, William and I had a bittersweet morning with him 9/23; fortunately the weather was beautiful. After the end, we headed to St. Mary's City (as previously planned) for the 9/24 inauguration of the new performing arts center at St. Mary's College of Maryland -- including a reception where William was part of an oboe/violin/cello trio providing ambiance, and then an impressive performance of Orff's Carmina Burana conducted by Larry Vote with soloists Gustavo Ahualli and Diane Atherton, 2 pianos, 5 percussionists and the impressive SMCM Chamber Choir augmented by alumni.

The next day, William, Louise and I enjoyed relaxing on the beach at beautiful Point Lookout State Park (where the Potomac River enters Chesapeake Bay).

Thought for the Week

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