And forgive us our trespasses
We are all familiar with the sign that says: TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED!
It means that you need permission to be in the place where you are. It means don’t go there, stay out. There will be consequences for disobeying. Still, we mentally measure up the risk and decide whether it’s better to rely on forgiveness rather than get permission. Human nature is at work. Human nature is aligned with St Paul when he writes in Romans 7:14,15 (NLT) about the struggle we have with God’s Law which clearly points out our sinful nature. So, the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate.
It is no accident that when we come to worship, the pastor invites us to confess our sins to God and to be sorry for what we have done. We call on God by his name. Almighty God, merciful Father,
“I a poor helpless sinner, confess to You all my sins and repent of the evil I have done. I have deeply displeased You (in thought, word and deed, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do) and deserve your punishment in time and in eternity. But I am sorry for my sins, and I ask you, for the sake of the holy, innocent sufferings and death of your Son Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me. Amen.”
Then come the three questions:
We are in the presence of God who searches our hearts as we answer:
Do you confess your sins and repent of them?
Do you believe that Jesus has redeemed you and ask forgiveness in His name?
Do you intend with the help of the Holy Spirit to live as in God’s presence and strive daily to live a holy life even as Christ has made you holy?
And the answer to each one is “I do”. I can only say these and attempt to mean them because of what Jesus first did for me.
My pastor, as God’s representative, confirms my forgiveness and in God’s name, asks him to forgive my unbelief and impenitence, comforts me with his absolution, welcomes me to his table.
St Paul ends Romans 7:24,25 (NLT): O what a miserable person I am! Who can free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death. Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Forgive us our trespasses.
Who am I now? I am God’s child, washed clean in the water of my Baptism, by the blood of the Lamb. The Holy Spirit grows my faith through Word and Sacrament. Each day I can approach God confident that he will wipe away my sins leaving me as clean as a beach after a high tide. Forgiven does not mean perfect, just freed from the condemnation of sin.
Forgiven! Praise the Lord!