Reflections: June 25, 2020
The Nativity of John the Baptist
By Alexander Lange
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us. (The Small Catechism: The Lord's Prayer, Sixth Petition)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. According to Luther, the Christian life consists of two parts: faith in the Lord and love toward the neighbor. Both parts are expressed by this petition.
Christians pray for forgiveness because they are sinners. They pray for forgiveness every day, even until their dying day, because they commit sins every single day.
Some people think that we are justified by the works we perform before our conversion and others think that we are justified by the works we perform after our conversion. This petition proves how wrong-headed such thinking is. We are justified by faith alone -- from start to finish!
Of course, such grace does have implications for how we live. It isn't that we merit God's forgiveness by our willingness to forgive. No, God forgives us because Christ died for us. In turn we forgive others, because of God's willingness to forgive us.
At the foot of the Cross we see how great our debt to God was, and we see how small our neighbor's debt to us is in comparison. If God's anger toward me lasts only a moment, then what right do I have to stay angry with my brother? So we acknowledge in this petition that we will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
If you are struggling to forgive someone, go to your pastor. Confess that you are slow to forgive, so your pastor can absolve you. Then you can pray for a change of heart and discuss how you can do good to those who hurt you, in spite of your hurt and mixed feelings. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more; We, too, will gladly those forgiven Who hurt us by the way they live. Help us in our community To serve each other willingly. ("Our Father, Who from Heaven Above" LSB 766, st. 6)
- Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
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