...and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
...and forgive us our sins... Luke 11:4a
In 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged. They became The United Methodist Church. If you look in our hymnal, entries 894, 895 and 896 contain the “versions” of “The Lord’s Prayer” which reflects the heritage of both groups:
The old Methodists said “forgive us our trespasses”.
The Brethren said “forgive us our debts”.
Today’s ecumenical text simply says “forgive us our sins”.
All three words are good (well….bad).
Trespasses refer to the times we step over the line that God has drawn, which says “not this”. To trespass means deliberate disobedience with forethought. This is first degree – I know this is wrong, but I want to do it, and by Zeus, I will!
“Sins” is the common “catch-all” for that which is done (like trespasses), and for that which we ought to do, but is neglected, and even for those things we thought we would do if we could get away with it, but are too “chicken” to attempt.
But Debts – now there’s something we can all understand. That’s unconfessed sin; its past tense stuff. And it can pile up!
Just like all the other debts!
Our country moves in cycles of frantic news and bickering over “the debt”.
Couples divorce more because of debt than anything.
Years ago when we lived in North Florida, as I was driving down the road I saw a really impressive brand new Cadillac. As I got closer the license tag came into view:
“I Owe…I Owe BIG!”
I’m not sure we can insert that in the liturgy in our churches this Sunday….but why not? It’s the truth. The sacrifice of Jesus was because of our sins, trespasses and debts – we DO owe big!
We owe “impossibly BIG”!
And He forgives bigger!
Continue this weekend with worship.