I recently have been enjoying reading Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch. (It is called ‘three thousand years because it lays a foundation in world history prior to Jesus’ time).
An understanding of Christian history enlightens each of us. This week’s revelation for me was the early church practice of selling forgiveness to Christians. For some reason I thought the practice had originated in Rome, where Popes had set a range of money penances, varying for each sin.
Perhaps my old belief was anti-pope, or anti-Rome. The practice originated in Ireland, and became a standard practice because the Christian congregations demanded it. The common people appreciated knowing exactly what it would cost one to be forgiven by the church (as it represents God).
You and I, however, cannot buy our way into forgiveness. The ‘cost’ is much higher and much more valuable than mere money. We have to ask forgiveness, and talk to God about it. This is not at all like talking to one’s father, and admitting to an error. This is talking to GOD. In some ways this is very easy, and in some ways it is the most difficult thing to accomplish. But God is ready, I believe.
Psalm 51 is a guide for us all. One clue, the herb ‘Hyssop’, was an important herb in Jerusalem and the only herb the tax collector Matthew could not tax. It grows wild in many locations, and is easy to find seed for, and to grow yourself.
But even without hyssop, Psalm 51, leads us each to forgiveness.
And it is good to be forgiven, finally.
Pray for our peace,
Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).
Pray with us!
We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net
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Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/
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Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
You shall make an altar on which to offer incense; you shall make it of acacia wood. It shall be one cubit long, and one cubit wide; it shall be square, and shall be two cubits high; its horns shall be of one piece with it. You shall overlay it with pure gold, its top, and its sides all around and its horns; and you shall make for it a molding of gold all around. And you shall make two golden rings for it; under its molding on two opposite sides of it you shall make them, and they shall hold the poles with which to carry it. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall place it in front of the curtain that is above the ark of the covenant, in front of the mercy seat that is over the covenant, where I will meet with you. Aaron shall offer fragrant incense on it; every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall offer it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps in the evening, he shall offer it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. You shall not offer unholy incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. Once a year Aaron shall perform the rite of atonement on its horns. Throughout your generations he shall perform the atonement for it once a year with the blood of the atoning sin offering. It is most holy to the Lord.
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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- Friday: March 23 (prayerscapes.wordpress.com)
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- SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY – About Forgiveness (blogginghounds.wordpress.com)
- Psalm 51:17 – David Was Bad Too (reconciled.me)
- Fifth Sunday of Lent (prepareformass.wordpress.com)
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