Midweek Study with Pastor Edith
February 14, 2024
Bible Matthew 6:5-15
Happy first day of the Lenten Season and Happy Valentines Day! What a wonderful day to remember and even celebrate Ash Wednesday, on a day where nearly everyone around me is sharing heart shaped candy, cards with hearts on them, heart shaped boxes containing wonderful chocolates and even amazingly creative heart shaped balloons. So many ways to say “I Love You”.
How appropriate then, to have on the Christian church calendar this day to remember that life is short, and that we are to take some extra time loving God more and loving others more as a result of our love for God. Many have the tradition of giving up something for Lent, I have done that off and on over the years. I remember Ash Wednesday 2020 and we were at the beginning of the COVID pandemic where so many were constrained to stay at home, or wherever they found themselves. I was meeting, via Zoom, with fellow clergy to help support one another as we were entering a time that was threatening the very life of the church. We were discussing how we would be celebrating Lent with our church families even if we couldn’t meet in person. I suggested that we had already given up so much, that perhaps it was time to do something more; a new way to study scripture, a more concerted effort to communicate God’s love and presence, and even a new way to pray.
Our scripture for today gives us a glimpse of Jesus doing just that with his followers; we call it “The Lord’s Prayer”. Now this may not be a new way for you to pray. You may be in a congregation, like mine, who recites together this prayer during worship, and particularly at Holy Communion time. So, what’s new? Well, for me, I had grown up praying “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”, recently I was challenged by one of my children to consider praying “and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.
Funny, how changing one word makes this prayer all the more honest and personal. When you read our passage for today notice how Jesus says in verse 14 of Matthew chapter 6; “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Ouch! Can we just go back to Debts or Trespasses? Suddenly a scripture comes to mind from a previous midweek posting; “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). Okay, then, love is the key and it is often expressed in forgiveness, which is so much easier to say than to do. It’s sort of like when I was a little kid and we had a valentine exchange at school. My teacher said we were to have a valentine for every student in the class. What? I was supposed to write out on a valentine card the names of the people I did not like, and would not forgive them for making fun of me? Fine, I did, and even if they tore my card up, which happened, I was to be kind.
Yep, tis the season to love; love God and love others. Just like a song I learned as a youth and to sing as a round; Love, love, love, love, the gospel in a word is love. Love your neighbor as your brother, love, love, love.