"as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Moving from our own prayer asking forgiveness we quickly qualify that request, "as we forgive…" I have puzzled over these words even as praying these connected prayers for many years. I do not seek to become the Forgiver but the one who is forgiven.
"As we forgive" places us, not with the power to forgive but rather to understand more fully what we ask. If God is to forgive us how else can we know what God's forgiveness means except as we enter into forgiving? What does it mean to be forgiven? What does it ask of God or someone to let go of an offense or hurtful moment? A painful situation may only be resolved by renewing the relationship where the deeds can be seen in a new light.
What does it mean for God to send his beloved son who said while on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?" We can only begin to know its meaning by way of an act of forgiveness coming from our own heart. Rather than be placed by our forgiving in a position of power over the other we simply seek renewal. We do not dismiss what happened as much as asking for the light of God to shine upon us and the one (or the situation) when the relationship was fractured.
Loving God, forgive me. Help me to move beyond the list of things I propose to those times of straying from your purpose for me. Restore me with your loving kindness and mercy. Heal my soul and set my feet upon a straight path.
Rev. Paul Stiffler
Minister of Pastoral Care