Each day we will take a look at a sentence from the Lord’s Prayer.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son… Luke 15:18-19
In Charles Dickens David Copperfield, there is a moving description of love for the lost. Emily has run away and Mr Peggotty announces that he is going ‘through all the wureld’ to search for her. But: ‘Every night as reg’lar as the night comes, the candle must be stood in its old pane of glass, that if ever she should see it, it may seem to say, ‘Come back, my child, come back.’
The lost son in Jesus’ story did come back. He came back rehearsing his speech. But his speech did not begin with ‘Forgive’, it began with ‘Father’. The son knew that he had forfeited his right to the privilege of home and sonship. The father knew that he had every right to punish the son who had abused his love. But the father chose not to exercise his right. Instead, he stepped out of the realm of rights and into the realm of grace. Grace is a generous, free gift which the giver need not give but which often melts the heart of the receiver. This gesture proved that the father had already let go of any bitterness or hurt, anger or hatred he may have once felt. Even before his son could stammer out his confession, the father had already forgiven him. For ‘to forgive’ means ‘to let go’, ‘to drop’, ‘to release.’
In describing a father who expressed such forgiveness tangibly: ‘His father…embraced him and kissed him’ (Luke 15:20), Jesus seems to have been anxious to persuade us that God is not a God who extracts from his people remorse for their misdeeds. God is a God whose love is the candle in the window, who longs to let us off the hook, to release us from our past as hostages are set free from their captors, to liberate us from ourselves as prisoners are set free from prison, to pour into us the same kind of energy which adrenalin gives to athletes when they hear the starting pistol at the beginning of a race: the energy to come home.
Think about this claim: the only way we can come to God is just as we are. We must learn to accept who we are, because God accepts us as we are and loves us as we are. Place a candle with the Palm Cross, photo/names, battery, keys and bread, to remind you of God’s love.
Ask forgiveness for the things you have done wrong and pray for those who have hurt you.
Just as I am… O Lamb of God I come.