It's not that personal
When we pray 'forgive us our sins' (or debts, or trespasses, or whatever version of the Lord's prayer we use) we are praying for the whole of the church.
I'm not just praying that God will forgive my sins; that's a tiny part of it. You are not just praying that God will forgive your personal sins. We are asking God to forgive all the failings of his church, no matter what they may be.
When we pray the Lord's Prayer we pray that God's kingdom will come, a kingdom that will sweep away all injustice and evil. When we pray the Lord's Prayer we take our stand as his light for the world. If we are honest we will come humbly, knowing that we his church have fallen short of all God wants us to be.
So we pray that God will forgive us our sins, and keep working in us so that we can do the job he has called us to. We pray believing in the kingdom and the role of God's church in it.
This Sunday we will be looking at the Lord's Prayer …. the way Jesus taught us to pray.
The joy of the Lord (Nehemiah 8)
Festivals matter. Every day is a good day to praise the Lord, but sometimes we need an all-out celebration.
In Nehemiah 8 the people hear God's word and it reduces them to tears. They realise how far they have fallen short. But the preacher is far from happy with this. This is a holy day. It's a day to rejoice in the things God has done, not a day to be sad. So the priests move among the people and get them to calm down. Then the celebration begins.
I've heard people say they weren't good enough for church. Or that God could not forgive them their sins. Nonsense. Our faith doesn't start with what we've done; it starts with the things God has done. Sure we need to confess our sins, but first we need to celebrate the amazing story that the Bible tells and claim our place within it
That's why the celebration had so much Bible reading. The Bible reading wasn't the boring bit before the celebration; it was a central part of the celebration, making clear what the people were celebrating.
More on Sunday …..