Contributed by Steven Alloway, Granada Hills, CA
How do you feel after you do something you’re not supposed to do? Do you worry about whether or not someone will find out? Do you worry about what kind of trouble you’ll get into?
Faking It and Forgiveness
Tatiana Khan of Los Angeles, CA paid an art restorer $1,000 to make a forgery of Pablo Picasso’s 1902 painting, The Woman in the Blue Hat. She then turned around and sold it for $2 million.
Then the FBI got involved. Khan first told the authorities that she had gotten the painting from someone else and didn’t know it was a fake. She also told the painter of the forgery to lie to the FBI, to claim he only does restoration work, not copying. But the truth soon came to light. Khan is scheduled to plead guilty next month to felony charges of witness tampering and making false statements to the FBI. Her crimes carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, but a plea bargain, based on her cooperation, recommends a maximum sentence of only 21 months.
- Why do you suppose Khan tried to sell a phony Picasso? Why do you think the art dealer went along with it?
- Considering that the charges Khan now faces do not concern the painting itself but her subsequent dealings with the FBI, why do you think she lied and tried so hard to cover her tracks, when she knew she was caught?
- If you were the judge, how would you sentence Tatiana Khan? Which sentence do you think is more appropriate for her crimes, 21 months or 25 years? What sentence should the forger/art dealer receive?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, May 9, 2010 (Sixth Sunday of Easter)
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
“Those who love me will keep my Word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Familiar words from a familiar verse. But upon closer inspection, the interpretation becomes a little more daunting.
“…and my Father will love them.” But what if we don’t keep God’s word? Won’t he still love us? Because, try as we might, none of us can keep God’s word all the time. And what about the next verse? “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” But we do love Christ! We may mess up. We fail to keep his words the way we should. We may even flat out deny our relationship with Jesus, as Peter did. But that didn’t mean Peter loved Jesus any less, nor do we. Though we love him, we are prone to sin. So what can we do?
Well, Jesus covers that too. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.” God sent us the Holy Spirit to help us in our spiritual lives. He will keep us on the right track, be our help in times of trouble, and guide us when we stray from the path. Everyone strays from God’s word sometimes. The Holy Spirit is our advocate—someone who intercedes on our behalf when we fail to measure up, a reminder that God still loves us, even when we sin.
Jesus also gives us something else: Peace. When we sin, it can weigh heavily on our conscience and tear us up inside. We worry about what we’ve done and wonder what others will think of us if they find out. But Jesus gives us his peace, so that our hearts need not be troubled. Knowing we are forgiven, that God still loves us, we can rest easy. But we do more than just rest. With the Holy Spirit to guide us and Christ’s peace to comfort us, we can get back on the right path, seeking to love God and keep his Word.
- Since we know that we’re forgiven and God still loves us, even when we sin, does that give us a free pass to sin whenever we want? Why? How would that attitude reflect on our love for God?
- What are some ways the Holy Spirit has guided you back to God’s path when you strayed?
- How is our situation like Tatiana Khan’s? How is it different? Do you think the FBI cut her a deal for a reduced sentence out of forgiveness or for some other reason?
Look in the Bible for other mentions of the Holy Spirit (The Spirit, Comforter, Advocate, etc.). Write about how the Holy Spirit is active in our lives.
Holy Spirit, watch over me in all that I do and keep me on the right path. When I stray, lead me back to you. Give me your peace, so that my heart may not be troubled. Help me always to love you more and more, that I may keep your Word. Amen.