Thursday, November 04, 2010

and forgive us our [blank] as we forgive those who [blank] against us

I didn't grow up saying the Lord's Prayer very often, the church I attended seemed to view unison spoken prayer as somehow suspect. The Lord's Prayer was cited as a model to follow rather than words to recite. It was only when I spent sometime at the local C of E church as a chorister that I began to say the prayer with any regularity.

In the liturgy that we used the [blank] was always filled by the word 'Sin'. Later on I discovered other people who used the words 'Trespasses'. Fortunately I discovered that if I started saying the word Sin when everyone else was Trespassing I could easily morph my S to fit in and end up saying something that sounded like Sespasses.

When I moved to the U.S. I discovered people using the word Debts. It's quite difficult for me to disguise my liturgical lapse if I start saying Sin and everyone else uses Debts. My S sounds far to early to be disguised and the word Sebts doesn't really roll off the tongue.

Sins, Debts and Trespasses all paint different images in my mind. Debts leads to images of Bank Balances, of dusty ledgers and accounts in the red. Trespasses are fields encased with fences with warning signs promising prosecution for people who do not heed them. Sins are arrows flying through the air falling short of the target.

But what is the target, the mark that we are trying to hit?

In my earnest teenage years, the target was Perfection. Sin, was generally anything 'bad', anything that went against my internalized moral code. Lying, Smoking, Drinking, Disobeying your Parents, and of course anything to do with Sex. Over the years my Moral Code has shifted, items jockey for position, new ones appear and others disappear.

But what if the 'target' is something other than my internalized definition of Sin?

Back in the Garden of Eden the first words the Serpent says to Eve is 'Did God say....' Eve begins to question her connection to God and her ability to hear him. Hot on the heels of this comes the implication that God is depriving Eve, that who she is, isn't enough '.....your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God....'

What if Sin is our inability to step fully into who God has created us to be. To Be and Do something other than what we were created for. We mistrust our own connection to God (Did God say....) and we think who God has created us to be is somehow lacking or less than all it could be.

What if Sin is wearing masks that present who we think we ought to be rather than who we are. We present a version that is less than who God calls us to be, 'sanitized for your protection'. We think living life to the full is fully expanding into our fake shell without ever questioning the shell's validity.

Our woundedness, trying to be something other than who God lovingly creates us to be manifests itself in the sins we commit. Our sins are like the warning lights on the dashboard of the car, telling us that there is a deeper problem.

Our sins flow from our wounds, and it is from Christ's wounds that we find healing and forgiveness.

That sounds so nice....and I paused after writing it because although it is poetic, I need to find out what it actually means, here are some ways Healing and Forgiveness have manifested themselves in my life.

Healing and Forgiveness means liking myself for who I am rather than hating myself for who I am not.

Healing and Forgiveness means offering who I think I should be to God and allowing that image to be transformed, enlarged, and even destroyed if necessary.

Healing and Forgiveness means feeling rather than avoiding the weight of my sin, my brokenness, so that I can encounter God there.

Healing and Forgiveness means letting go of my pain rather than treating it like a close friend.

Healing and Forgiveness means letting God dissolve the false images I have of myself.

Healing and Forgiveness means growing into all God has for me.

Healing and Forgiveness means trying to be as gracious to myself as God is to me.

Healing and Forgiveness means trusting my own connection to God.

As you pray the line 'forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us', ask yourself where you need forgiveness and healing in your life.


JWebb said...

Thanks for helping us do our "work" by doing yours, Peter. Very well said.

Craig Morton said...