Forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer | March 10, 2019

On Sunday, 10 March, our evening service focused on the idea of forgiveness as we read it in the Lord’s Prayer. You can listen to the sermon on Soundcloud, or come to our evening service Home Group on 12 March to chat about this challenging topic. Below you’ll find some reflection questions, which you can use on your own or discuss with others at Home Group. For more information, email Natalie.

Question 1

How easy do you find it to believe that God has forgiven your sins? What makes it hard?

Question 2

How do you react to this story and the idea that God calls us to forgive those who sin against us?

On the 8th of November 1987, a crowd gathered in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland at a monument for the war dead, for a memorial service on Remembrance Day. A bomb planted by the Provisional IRA, meant to kill soldiers and policemen at the service, went off ten minutes early. Eleven people, all but one of them civilians, died in the explosion and under the rubble, and one man left in a coma died 13 years later without recovering consciousness.

The most famous story to emerge from the massacre was that of Marie Wilson, a twenty-year-old girl who had been standing near the monument with her father, Gordon Wilson. They were buried under bricks.

“We were both thrown forward, rubble and stones and whatever in and around and over us and under us. I was aware of a pain in my right shoulder. I shouted to Marie was she all right and she said yes, she found my hand and said, "Is that your hand, dad?" Now remember we were under six foot of rubble. I said "Are you all right?" and she said yes, but she was shouting in between. Three of four times I asked her, and she always said yes, she was all right. When I asked her the fifth time, "Are you all right, Marie?" she said, "Daddy, I love you very much."

Those were the last words she spoke to me. She still held my hand quite firmly and I kept shouting at her, "Marie, are you all right?" but there wasn't a reply. We were there about five minutes. Someone came and pulled me out. I said, "I'm all right but for God's sake my daughter is lying right beside me and I don't think she is too well." She's dead. She didn't die there. She died later. The hospital was magnificent, truly impressive, and our friends have been great, but I miss my daughter, and we shall miss her but I bear no ill will, I bear no grudge. She was a great wee lassie, she loved her profession. She was a pet and she's dead. She's in heaven, and we'll meet again.

Don't ask me please for a purpose. I don't have a purpose. I don't have an answer, but I know there has to be a plan. If I didn't think that, I would commit suicide. It's part of a greater plan, and God is good. And we shall meet again.”

I have lost my daughter, and we shall miss her. But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life.

He told the BBC that he forgave her killers and added: "I shall pray for those people tonight and every night."

Question 3

Do you find the quotations from Thomas Watson helpful? (Body of Divinity, p. 581)

We are not bound to trust an enemy; but we are bound to forgive him.

Question:When do we forgive others?

Answer: When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them.

Question 4

Take a look at these passages and think about what they tell us about what our forgiveness of others might look like.

  • Romans 12:19 | Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:15 | Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

  • Luke 6:28 | Bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.

  • Proverbs 24:17 | Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

  • Matthew 5:44 | But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

  • Romans 1:18 | The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

  • Exodus 23:4 | ‘If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.