Sins/Trespasses/Dettis

AD 1389 Wycliffe

Our fadir that art in heuenes,
halwid be thi name;
Thi kingdom cumme to;
be thi wille don as in heuen and in earthe;
giv to vs this day our breed ouer other substaunce;
and forgene to vs oure dettis, as we forgeue to oure dettours;
and leede us nat in to temptacioun,
but delyuere vs fro yuel.

Wycliffe died for daring to translate the Bible into something ordinary people could read. How important it is to realise that there was a time when the Bible was kept secret by the Church hierarchy as if it were too good for the people (or was it that the Bible would show up the authorities for what they were?). All that people of that time may have heard in church were the Latin words of the Pater Noster

Sins, trespasses or debts? It depends on how you translate the Greek word. Sins need forgiving, debts need cancelling and I’m not sure what trespasses need! My personal concern when using the traditional form of words for the Lord’s Prayer is that there are words in it that have very little meaning today. Trespasses, for instance, suggests a wilful act of accessing another person’s property. Its older meaning has been lost in normal speech. Trespass does not really express the failure of a relationship with God broken by us through disobedience. Debts are what we owe – they suggest an obligation to someone, but this could be an obligation to pay back what you’ve borrowed. To my mind, sin is the word we need, even though the world laughs at that word. To the world sin seems to be about perverse sexual behaviour and not a lot else. The world needs conviction of sin -to acknowledge the disobedience of Adam in us all in daring to think that we can step out of God’s care and do our own thing.

No sin can be forgiven except upon repentance. It is a sin to think that you use the church like a car wash. We use cars and they get dirty. We wash them or go to the car wash, knowing that we’re going to carry on making them dirty as we continue to use them. Repentance is an act whereby we come to God with the intention not only of accepting His cleansing but also of stepping away from what it was that had made us unclean before God.

We may recall Jesus’ parable of the servant who, after having a massive debt (there’s that word!) dismissed by his master, goes and throws another person in jail for the small debt he owed the servant. The servant had a bad ending.

Do you rejoice in the freedom you have to pray the Lord’s Prayer in public?

Of what sins of the Church (and our own church fellowship) do we need to repent?

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