Whenever I’m in need of inspiration for a sermon, I re-read Judgment and Love – it contains the exact sort of true stories of forgiveness and its life-altering impact that always translate well in the pulpit. This past week I heard a doozy of a new one – this actually happened (ht Will Kulseth):

At a boarding school for troubled teens in upstate NY, something terrible happened. Someone defecated in a trash can, and then smeared the contents all over the walls of one of the living rooms.

An assembly was called, and the headmaster, after voicing how upset he was about the incident, told the group that they were now going to sit there and wait for a confession. They sat for a long fifteen minutes, and then a student said: “I know who did it, and if he doesn’t confess soon, I’m going to tell on him.”

Finally a boy stood up and came forward. He said, “I did it”, not all that apologetically.

In perfect Luke-15-“While-he-was-still-far-off” fashion, the headmaster embraced the boy. He said: “Son, I’m proud of you for coming forward, and I want to tell you something very important: you are forgiven.”

He dismissed the assembly, and led the culprit with him back to the scene of the incident, where he had the boy sit in a chair facing the soiled wall. Then the principle cleaned up the mess by himself, while the boy sat there watching.