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"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
"For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (ESV)
Forgiven and Forgiving
Tuesday of Easter 7
10 May 2016
In Matthew's account of the Lord's Prayer, Jesus repeats the fifth petition ("forgive us our debts") immediately after teaching the prayer itself. He emphasizes the power and need for forgiveness above all: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mt 6:14-15). First, we Christians need forgiveness, for we daily sin much. Second, we Christians need to forgive others, for others, like us, also sin much. The church must be and remain the community of sinners, forgiven and forgiving. Those who are forgiven and know its tremendous power will also gladly forgive and do good to those who sin against them.
There is no way for the church to live in love and harmony other than through and in the power of forgiveness. Congregations can become full of bickering factions, seeking their own way and through power politics enforcing their own will upon the community. This is not the will and way of our Savior, who calls on us to live in forgiveness with our neighbor, overlooking his weaknesses and in love covering a multitude of sins (1Pt 4:8). If we live in forgiveness, then the Lord's way will be made among us.


Martin Luther

"This is a remarkable addition (to the Lord's Prayer [Mt 6:14-15]), but a very precious one. Someone may well wonder why He should append this addition to this particular petition: 'Forgive us our debts.' He could just as well have appended some such item to one of the others, and He could have said: 'Give us our daily bread, as we give it to our children'; or, 'Lead us not into temptation, as we do not tempt anyone'; or, 'Deliver us from evil, as we save and deliver our neighbors.' Yet the only petition that has an addition of this sort is this one, and it gives the impression that the forgiveness of sins is accomplished and merited by our forgiving. Then what would become of our doctrine that forgiveness must come only through Christ and must be received in faith?
"The answer to the first part of the question is this: by putting the petition this way and connecting the forgiveness of sin with our forgiving, He had the special purpose of making mutual love a Christian obligation, and the continual forgiveness of the neighbor the primary and principal duty of Christians, second only to faith and the reception of forgiveness. As we live in faith toward Him, therefore, so also we should live in love toward our neighbor. We should not bring annoyance or injury upon one another, but keep in mind always to forgive one another even though we have been injured, as is inevitable in this life; we should know that otherwise we shall not be forgiven either. Where anger and ill will are an obstacle, this spoils the whole prayer and prevents one from being able to pray or to wish any of the preceding petitions either.
"You see, this means we must establish a firm and strong bond that will hold us together. When we plan to come before God in prayer for what we are to obtain, we must not be separated or divided into schisms, factions, and sects, but we must be tolerant toward one another in love and remain of one mind. When this is the case, the Christian man is complete; he believes correctly, and he loves correctly. Whatever other faults he may have, these are to be consumed in his prayer, and it is all forgiven and paid."

Martin Luther, Sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, 6.15
Our Father, You grant grace and every blessing to Your church through forgiving her sins and granting her the power to convey that same remission of sins to the children You have given her. Grant that we might overlook our neighbor's sins and speak the words of holy absolution to him so that we might live in Your peace. Amen
For our catechumens, who will confess their faith before men so Christ our Lord would confess them before their Father in heaven, that they might be strengthened in their faith even to the point of death
For all those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, especially Joanna Karner, that God would give them His strength in their weakness
For Pastor Marvin Donaire, that God the Lord of the Church would bless the mission work being done in Nicaragua
Art: RUBENS, Peter Paul  The Resurrection of Christ (1611-12)

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