A Daily Dose of Good News
Saturday, September 12, 2020
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:7-15)
It’s a discussion question I present
With most every confirmation class
When we are dealing with the 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer:
What is the one essential characteristic
Of every lasting friendship or relationship of any sort?
Not love …
Not compassion …
Not even faithfulness
And it’s a good thing those characteristics are not essential,
Since none of us,100% of the time,
In all of our thought, words and deeds
Exhibits those characteristics in any of our relationships.
In fact, the one essential characteristic in our relationships
Makes it possible for those relationships to survive
The breakdown of other such desirable characteristics.
And that one essential characteristic is forgiveness.
So essential, Jesus gives is a whole petition
In the prayer he teaches his followers to pray.
And Of all the petitions in the Lord’s prayer,
It’s also the one most closely aligned
The the Bible themes we’ll be hearing in worship tomorrow.
Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who indebted to us.
And within the importance of such forgiveness
Within God’s promise to reconcile with all creation,
Jesus concludes the passage
Explaining that such forgiveness
is as fundamentally essential to life in God’s kingdom
As we find eating and breathing and gravity.
Forgiveness for the debt of sin held by each other
Is inherent to all relationships in God’s kingdom.
To be sure, forgiveness for the debt of sin doesn’t mean
That the initial offense is unimportant or disregarded,
On the contrary, it clears the blockage created by a grudge like that
So that the relationship might have a future at all
Which takes seriously implications and response to the offense.
And God in Christ Jesus has already taken the first step
Into God’s Kingdom of debt-free living,
By himself living a life of utter forgiveness to and through the cross
And by his resurrection, vindicating such forgiveness as eternally true.
Friends, we are forgiven
And we appreciate and enjoy that forgiveness
When we share it with others
Interestingly enough, without the caveat
That others are necessarily committed to forgiving us first
Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray:
Forgive us our debts as we give those indebted to us when they forgive us too.
In the God’s kingdom,
We forgive the debts of others
With the same charity and grace
By which God in Christ Jesus first forgives us.
So too, we forgive the debts of others
Seeking nothing more in exchange
Than a future for our relationship
That we might pursue together
For the well-being of all.
To be sure, that’s not a Pollyanna, gum drops and lollipops
Dose of good news for the challenges and conflicts of our day.
Offenses don’t magically go away.
No, it’s even better good news.
It’s a path forward in the real world together
Offenses and all … with a future toward resolution and reconciliation …
All with the assurance of a God who points the way toward that path
And accompanies us along the away. Amen