I know at this point in the summer we should not mention the first day of school, but I have a story to tell you about my daughter’s first day of kindergarten shortly after we had moved to a small town up north. That morning we did the big hoopla: good breakfast, packed her backpack, a photograph in her first-day-of-school outfit, showed her where I would pick her up in carpool at the end of the day, and took her to her new kindergarten class. Big kisses and happy smiles. Then at two o’clock that afternoon I got a phone call from the school.
“Mrs. Woodruff, you need to come pick up your daughter.”
“What?” I said, “Did she get sick on the first day?”
“No, ma’am, school got out today at one o’clock.”
“What??? I thought school went until three o’clock?”
“Yes, ma’am, it usually does. But today the weather prediction was for the temperature to be over eighty-five degrees, and in that case, we always close school at one o’clock.”
(Yes, I know, weird isn’t it? We lived a good bit further north at that time and the school did not have air conditioning.)
So I drove safely but quickly, and arrived to find Cherry happily sitting in the school office, hanging out with Miss Julie the secretary. I rushed up to Cherry and said, “I am so sorry! I didn’t know! Can you forgive me for not being here on time?”
Cherry looked at me and said, “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll even five-give you for this.”
Since she was learning her numbers, she thought five-give would be more than four-give.
In our Bible story today, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer which includes a request for forgiveness. People use these words spoken by Jesus to pray quietly or aloud together in groups. Since the Bible was written thousands of years ago in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages, we read and hear it today translated into English. And because it is hard to match words exactly from one language to another, you will hear the words of the Lord’s Prayer said slightly differently from church to church, especially the part where we ask for forgiveness. (Make the order here fit your church’s format…) In our church, we say forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Some churches say forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And some churches say forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
A debt is the way of saying when something is owed…like I owed my daughter security for making her scared as she waited and waited and waited. A trespass is a way of saying when you interrupt something or barge in on someone…like I interrupted my daughter’s new routine by not being where I was supposed to be. And a sin…well, that covers debts and trespasses and everything that we do that hurts someone else. But do you notice that in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for forgiveness as we forgive others? We can’t ask for all of our mistakes to be erased without being willing and able to erase the mistakes of others. No matter which words we use, we ask to receive forgiveness in the same way we give it.
I am sure that none of you will be left on the first day of school…I say this as I look at all of your parents so they will learn from my mistake…but throughout life, we each make many mistakes. And when we make mistakes against others, we need to ask for their forgiveness. And when others make mistakes against us, we need to offer them forgiveness. And whichever way we say it, whatever words we use, let us give and receive…forgiveness…five-giveness…seven-times-seventy-giveness.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)
I am sorry
for the mistakes I make.
Please forgive me
as I forgive others.
for Your love.
We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.