Sermon for 14 March 2021

Forgive us our Tresspasses

I saw a sign on the fence between two properties. It said “We don’t forgive your trespasses because you didn’t forgive ours”. Bet there is a whole miserable neighbour story behind that one.

This is the fourth in the series on the Lord’s Prayer. We are looking at the phrase “Forgive us our trespasses as we Forgive those who trespass against us”.

It is interesting that forgiveness is featured in the Lord’s Prayer right after food. It demonstrates the importance of forgiveness.
I have preached many sermons on this topic.

Psychologists generally define forgiveness as “a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

Oscar Wilde states “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys
them so much.”
Jesus tells his disciples to forgive seventy times seven times or in other
words, always.
Dalai Lama All major religious traditions carry basically the same
message; that is love, compassion and forgiveness are the most important things. They should be part of our daily lives.
Every book on coping with life talks about the necessity of forgiveness.

Basically there are two aspects to forgiveness in this prayer. First is the idea that when you forgive others it frees you up. The second is critical to understanding the wording. You only understand forgiveness as much as you are able to give it.

The first part is a tough concept.
Sometimes we are convinced that if we hold a grudge then the other person will suffer. In reality they may be upset at first but not as upset as you are. The longer it goes on the bigger the difference between their resignation and your resentment.

One of the best moments is when someone says they will forgive you for something you have done and you think “For what?” You have completely forgotten the offence but apparently they have carried it for years.

People will ask me how to forgive someone who destroyed their life. The first thing is to try to understand why the situation occurred. Try to see it from their perspective. Try to understand what was going on in their life and maybe even talk to them. But eventually you just make up your mind to forgive them and the sooner you do, the sooner they stop destroying your life.

I have related a story before of a woman my father met in the hospital. She had been there fifty plus years. Apparently when she was sixteen, her boyfriend broke up with her at the high school dance. She went to the hospital with some form of anxiety and was still there. She explained to my father that she would never forgive him and she thought that eventually, he would feel that pressure and return to her.
Her lack of forgiveness destroyed her life. I am sure he moved on and if she had been able to learn how to forgive, through counselling or whatever then she could have had a much fuller life.

Again, people will ask if they should forgive someone who doesn’t ask for forgiveness. The answer is yes. If you wait for them to ask then you are giving the control of your life to someone else. This is your decision not the decision of someone you don’t get along with. Another way of looking at this is if the person has passed away, they are never going to ask for forgiveness, so make up your mind to forgive them.

Mahatma Gandhi says “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the
attribute of the strong.”

Forgiveness takes a lot of courage. It takes more than the courage to just absolve, it also takes the courage to move on. Sometimes the only connection you have with your past is anger and resentment. If you forgive then you may need to let go of that and move forward. That can be scary. Anger sometimes becomes our comfort zone. But it is a harmful comfort and it is time to get out of it.

The second part of the equation goes back to basic human psychology. Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us”. The word “AS” is critical.
It is a well-known fact that we find in others the faults we have already found in ourselves. It is equally true that the goodness you find in others is what you already found in yourself.

If you are a trusting person then you expect others to be. If you are the kind of person who accepts a handshake as a sign of agreement, then you are surprised when you offer your hand and someone says they prefer a written contract.

If you are the type of person who can give forgiveness then you are the type of person who can accept forgiveness. If you are the type of person who cannot give forgiveness then you cannot accept it either.

If you can forgive, then you understand that God also can forgive and vice-versa.
Right away someone will raise the idea of the unforgivable sin. The only way a sin is unforgivable is if the person will not receive it. If you turn your back on God then God can’t forgive you because you can’t be reached. The forgiveness is there but you won’t accept it.

Someone can only give me a blueberry pie if I accept it. If I refuse (which I wouldn’t) then you can’t give it to me.
It is difficult sometimes to understand how God can forgive certain people because we can’t. Whether they are people of history or someone we know we may struggle but remember that the forgiveness is there.

Recently I saw a statement on the internet titled something like “The errors of biblical forgiveness”. The person who was writing was explaining that the word forgiveness in the bible really didn’t mean unconditional forgiveness. They went on at great lengths to explain all the conditions that apparently God had imposed. When I read some of their other works I realised that they insisted on a tremendous number of conditions on any mercies they would share.

Our society is really not very good on clemency. We have a pretty strong belief in retaliation and revenge. It is often seen as the avenue of the weak yet it takes far more mettle than any other path. Of all the topics Jesus could have put in the Lord’s Prayer he chose forgiveness.

Our duty is first to learn to forgive and then learn to accept God’s forgiveness.

PRAYER God we so easily resort to anger and retaliation. We so often misinterpret the “eye for an eye” passage. Our society so often encourages vengeance and revenge, yet we know you are a forgiving God. Help us as we struggle with situations where we have been hurt of used. Help us to forgive those who have been cruel . And help us God to celebrate those who have been willing to forgive us. Our world has a long way to go but may we be reminded everytime we repeat the prayer your son taught us.
We now pray in silence for those in special need

Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen

SERVICE March 14, 2021
-Bible study on Zoom
-Etransfer info at bottom of page
-Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Aubrey and Cheryl

Opening Prayer
Hymn 574 Come let us Sing
Scripture Matthew 18: 19-22
Lord’s Prayer – sung
Hymn 271 vrs 1,2,4,5

Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen

Info about contributing

The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0

An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)

Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill

No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks