Last Sunday I shared a small group ministry session on the theme of Hospitality as a spiritual practice. Two weeks ago I offered a session on Hope. Here’s the third session in the series. This time, Forgiveness.

Embracing Forgiveness

Chalice/Candle Lighting

Opening Words:

Forgiveness is something freely granted, whether earned or deserved; something lovingly offered without thought of acknowledgment or return. It is our way of mirroring the goodness in the heart of a person rather than raising up the harshness of their actions….it allows us to live in the sunlight of the present, not the darkness of the past. Forgiveness alone, of all our human actions, opens up the world to the miracle of infinite possibility.

— Kent Nerburn in Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace



Rabbi Joseph Telushkin presents a rich smorgasbord of wise counsel using illustrative material from Jewish tradition and contemporary experiences. He covers relationships, marriage and childrearing, work, and moral issues. Here’s a story from The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living.

The great rabbinic sage Rabbi Israel Salanter (1810-1883) was once spending the night at a shoemaker’s home. Late at night, Salanter saw the man still working by the light of a flickering, almost extinguished candle.

Rabbi Salanter went over to the man: ‘Look how late it is; your candle is about to go out. Why are you still working?’

The shoemaker, undeterred by the rabbi’s words, replied, ‘As long as the candle is burning, it is still possible to mend.’

For weeks afterward, Rabbi Salanter was heard repeating the shoemaker’s words: ‘As long as the candle is burning, it is still possible to mend.’

As long as there is life — as long as the candle is burning — we can mend. We can reconcile with those from whom we’ve become estranged, help make peace within our families, give charity, aid a friend in financial straits to establish himself or herself in business, and work on learning to express our anger fairly.

Questions: Tell the story of one of your most vivid experiences of forgiveness.

Check-out/Likes and Wishes

Closing Words:

Forgiveness is an embrace, across all barriers, against all odds, in defiance of all that is mean and petty and vindictive and cruel in this life.
— Kent Nerburn in Calm Surrender

To Practice This Thought: Embrace in your heart everyone you need to forgive, including yourself.

Group Session Plan based on resources on Forgiveness from

For a PDF version of this small group ministry session, click here: Forgiveness.

For more information on small group ministry, visit the UU Small Group Ministry Network.