A message from Duncan:
‘Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.’ Matthew 6: 12
These words, or other versions of them, come from the prayer that Jesus taught all who follow him (Christians) to pray – The Lord’s Prayer. And in so many respects they are often the most challenging to actually live out for us. Easy to pray, not so easy to do! Yes, we can always ask God to forgive us when we know we’ve done or said something wrong. And if we really are sorry, then God will forgive us. But to be able to forgive others when they’ve wronged us – well, that’s another story altogether isn’t it!
But when Jesus taught his disciples that prayer, he knew exactly what he was doing and what he was expecting of them. Because he knew that he would have to live out those words in action as well – as he hung, dying on the cross.
After his arrest and mock trial, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion – the most awful punishment the Roman authorities could give. It was cruel, it was humiliating, it was painful, it was long and it was public. Yet, as he hung there in agony, Jesus looked out at the mocking crowd and the Roman soldiers who had administered this terrible deed and said, “Father, forgive these people. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
And, at this time of Lent and Easter, the cross becomes a central focus for Christians around the world. For it is a reminder that Jesus died for each one of us; but it is also a reminder of the example of ultimate forgiveness. Because, for Christians, the cross is not a symbol of death and despair, but of hope. Hope for a world where we can live with forgiving hearts. Hope for a world which reflects the values of God’s
kingdom. Hope for conflicts to cease and peace to reign. And, at this moment in the recent history of this country, I think that there’s never been a greater need for peace, reconciliation and healing of division.
This may not be the easiest option, but it is the right one. It will never be achievable simply through our own feeble efforts of course. For this level of forgiveness can only be found in God, as we saw on the cross. But when we find it hard to forgive, turn to God, through Jesus his Son. And if we give all those feelings of anger and hatred to God, and ask him to replace them with love and compassion, then through the power of his Holy Spirit, we will find the ability to forgive even when it seems impossible. Then we will see the light of God’s love shining brightly, just as it did on that first Easter morn, in the new life of the risen Lord Jesus.
With love and every blessing
for a truly happy and peace-filled Easter,