Forgive Us Our Trespasses

- in Jesus’ world, the more senior you were in a community, the less likely you were even to walk fast; it shows a lack of dignity, a gravitas
- a man running to greet someone: someone who has put a curse on him, who has brought disgrace on the whole family; the Parable of the Prodigal Son
- to understand why this man is running
- once you replace morality with the philosophy that says ‘if it feels good, do it’, there isn’t anything to forgive; instead of genuine forgiveness, our generation has been taught the vague notion of ‘tolerance’
- how can we turn that story, and the reality to which it points, into a prayer, as we pray the prayer Jesus taught us?
- Jesus was announcing God’s Kingdom, God’s Rule; God was at last liberating Israel from her slavery and thus setting the whole world back to rights
- the end of oppression and exile; Israel’s sin was the cause of exile
- the end of oppression and exile is brought about through forgiveness
- Jesus is the Kingdom-bringer; my child, your sins are forgiven; healings, parties, stories and symbols all said: the forgiveness of sins is happening
- this is the new Exodus, the real Return from Exile, the prophetic fulfillment, the great liberation
- the only reason for being Kingdom-people, for being Jesus’ people, was that forgiveness of sins was happening; so if you didn’t live forgiveness, you were denying the very basis of your own new existence
- the Lord’s Prayer contains, at this point, a most unusual thing: a clause which commits a prayer to actions which back up the petition just offered; prayer and life are here locked indissolubly together
- claiming this central blessing of the Kingdom only make sense if we are living by that same central blessing ourselves
- please note: this isn’t saying that we do this in order to earn God’s forgiveness; it’s a further statement of our loyalty to Jesus and his Kingdom
- they were to practice the great old biblical command of Jubilee; not only were they to forgive one another their sins and offenses, they would have no debts from each other
- forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
- this prayer was supremely answered when Jesus was crucified; in the light of the resurrection, they came to see that the cross was indeed the great act of liberation, of forgiveness, for which they had been waiting, even though it certainly didn’t look like it at the time
- we are called to be the people through whom the unique victory of Calvary and Easter is implemented in and for the whole world; the church is to be the advance guard of the great act of forgiveness of sins that God intends to accomplish for the entire cosmos
- we, as the people who pray this prayer for the world, are called to be the people who live in this way ourselves
- a prayer of commitment to live in love and peace with all our Christian brothers
- the picture is darkened by the presence of the older brother, who very naturally stays sulking in a corner, muttering that there is no such thing as a free fatted calf; it shows that Jesus himself was well aware of the problems that stand between vision and reality, and of the need not just to welcome the disgraced son but to reassure the wounded and puzzled brother

[Adapted notes from Wright, Tom. The Lord and His Prayer. London: Triangle, 1996]
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