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A key part of the Old Testament in the Book of Leviticus has a well-known refrain: ‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’ (19.2).

Luke 6.31–38

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

Jesus goes further and deeper. The refrain for the Church, the new community, is forgiveness: ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’

Life together in families, communities and nations is only possible with the oil of forgiveness. When we hold on to slights and grudges and allow them to build up, whole lives are wasted by hate. Bitterness can ruin more lives than bombs and bullets.

Forgiving others is always hard. But it is more possible when we remind ourselves each day of how much we have been forgiven. Only then can we let go of others’ debts to us.

Jesus teaches us to pray each day: ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’

Look back over the last five days. What have you learned about the layers of meaning in ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’?

Give us true repentance;
forgive us our sins of negligence and ignorance
and our deliberate sins;
and grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit
to amend our lives according to your holy word.

From the Litany

Clench your hands, as if you are holding something tightly. When someone has hurt us or been unkind, it can be hard to forgive them, even if they say sorry. It’s as if we hold on to the anger and pain. Say the Lord’s Prayer together, and when you reach the words “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”, slowly open your hands. Ask God to help you become more forgiving.
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Reflections from the Church House Publishing Pilgrim Journeys: 40 Days of Reflections on The Lord's Prayer written by Steven Croft are copyright 2019, 2020 The Archbishops’ Council and used here with permission. Full details of both resources are available on the Church of England website.

Bible readings are taken from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2020 The Church of England, All rights reserved.

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