One of the prefaces to the Lord’s prayer in the Anglican tradition, says “As our Saviour Christ has both commanded and taught us, we are very bold to say . . .”
As Stanley Hauerwas noted, it is good that we say this – and I must admit that as I pray it, it is a prayer that finds us out – it exposes us
We pray ‘Our Father’ – we make the dangerous presumption of belonging to those called into familial relationship to the One who has brought all things into being.
And we pray “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” – We are so bold as to say to the one we call Father – ‘use the measure of forgiveness we use towards others, as you forgive us’.
Both the initial address and this call for forgiveness are intimately related. It is only in being like him in being vessels of Grace and mercy that the truth or otherwise of the initial address are revealed – that we are shown to be God’s children.
Jesus twice makes a similar point – “Blessed are the merciful, he says – They [the Greek is very strong at this point – THEY] will receive mercy” Forgive us, as we forgive
and again “the measure you use, will be the measure that is dealt to you” Forgive us as we forgive.
In my readings of Orthodox Christians, I am frequently utterly challenged by their frequent call to complete and utter forgiveness. Their understanding of theosis, that we are being renewed in the image of God, leads them inevitably to this point
Can I so forgive? Dare I pray that prayer?