Giving & Forgiving
Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian
I like the guy who bought a humidifier and a dehumidifier and put them in the same room, turned them both on, and let them fight it out. When a pastor leads the Lord’s Prayer there is often a fight-it-out moment. It’s when we come to “forgive us our debts/trespasses.” Some want to say debts and some want to say trespasses. This phrase, forgive us our debts/trespasses, and the one before it, give us this day our daily bread, are essential to our human souls.
The two petitions are joined this way – what bread is to the body, forgiveness is to the soul. What bread is to the body, forgiveness is to the soul. What bread is to the body, forgiveness is to the soul.
Bread is about the basic necessities for basic good living. Not scrounging. But basic good living. This is reassuring to me. The early parts of the Lord’s Prayer, like hallowed and kingdom, have an eternal quality to them. But this is very material and every day. It’s what we concern ourselves with regularly. It’s like, “God, I stubbed my toe and it is killing me. It seems like a small and unspiritual thing to bring up, but could you help it heal fast?” Do you see? The request makes prayer about our regular real.
As we move into the second of the two petitions we are considering I think of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. The main character, Jean Valjean, who doesn’t have bread, steals some to live. He ends up in a debtor’s prison. Hmm. So without bread, Jean Valjean, ends up in debt, needing forgiveness of debt. Maybe the more bread and maybe bread of life we all have, the more charitable we might be, the less offending we might be – of both offending God and neighbor and needing to ask for forgiveness?
But we do offend and God forgives those who ask. We do need bread and God gives to those who ask. As the hymn goes, “Thou are giving and forgiving, ever blessing ever blest.” And what bread is to the body, forgiveness is to soul – a necessity if we are to live (to live practically, spiritually, eternally).
Rev. Jeff Wood, First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian, 1405 Louisiana Ave, 32958
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