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Seek daily forgiveness

There is an offer that was made to the world 2000 years ago by an itinerant carpenter who happened to believe he could converse with Reality itself. The man was Jesus. The Reality he named was Abba.

Jesus faced down the temptation to do glitzy miracles. He thought they were offensive and tacky. Instead, he spent his days doing two simple things: forgiving and healing people. Some legends suggest that he did some strenuous miracles. He fed a lot of people and he appeared on the surface of a stormy lake. But there are a lot of legends about Jesus. The healing and forgiving were for real and the proof lies in the bare-bones story, first set down for posterity in what we call the Gospel of Mark.

In that story, Jesus began by suggesting that things would become heavenly if people would honestly repent of the harm they had done. He called this the good news. (Mark 1)

Jesus then used his abilities to heal, with one important caveat. Most of those he healed were required to believe, to have faith. He actually suggested that faith was intrinsic to the process.

When you examine Mark for the reason Jesus was executed you will discover two major reasons:

He wanted to end the legalism and hypocrisy of religion.

And he insisted that he and his followers possessed the power to forgive and to heal.

Knowing his fate was sealed,  Jesus gave his followers the Lords Prayer. It is the only prayer he left us. It is right up there with Hamlet's most famous soliloquy. I like it in the form I have cast it in. It has twelve lines in three stanzas and can be sung to myriad melodies.

Abba whose home
in heaven is
Hallowed and holy
is your name
Let your realm come
your will be done
Till earth and heaven
are the same

Give us this day
our daily bread
Forgive the wrongs
that we have done
As we forgive
those who do wrong
Lead us not into

Deliver us
from evil Lord
And guide us safely
to your shore
Yours is the power
to heal and mend
Yours is the glory

Now what do you find here that is genuinely unusual?  Two big things. The name Abba which stands for Dad, Father, friend. This is the direct opposite of the vindictive, side-taking deity whose MO is to pit people against one another and ethics be damned.  You also find a contract, an oral pledge, a covenant, a recipe for harmonious existence for all.

Now I do not believe this Jesus cared a whit for establishing a church that would have a creed and build large buildings and conduct wars and play politics. Jesus's Sermon on the Mount is directly opposed to this list of ecclesiastical practices.  Jesus is much closer to the one that Neitzsche described in The Antichrist as the only true Christian who ever existed. This Jesus had only one demand and he put it in this prayer. 

Forgive the wrongs
that we have done
As we forgive
those who do wrong

There it is, folks. Plain as day. A contract. If you repent you will be forgiven.

If there is going to be any cure for the wrongs of life, there must be universal repentance. And repentance, as this prayer makes plain, is the only way anyone can be forgiven.

We do not get better because others pray for us. We get better because we pray for ourselves. We get forgiven because we seek forgiveness. This prayer is about the way reality works.

To drive this point home is to provide the most compelling reason why this philosophy is on the mark. Consider the reality. Me or you and the wrongs we've done. The people we've wronged and everyone else who do wrong. And? And? Abba. Or Reality. Or I-am. We are saying that binary has not, cannot and never will cut it. Only when we interpose a third element do we have a practical effect. A real effect. Only there do we touch the only way to infinity.  It takes thinking this through to perceive that when we say "think in threes" we are proposing not an option but a necessity on the way to becoming human. 
To suggest that everyone repeat this prayer or some equivalent three times a day sounds like the most unrealistic request of this millennium. But I have no hesitation in adding that it would make all the difference.

We can either have a repetition of the wrongs of the past or an evolution toward a future based on decency, hope and mutual care.

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Stephen C. Rose Bio

Stephen C. Rose (1936-) was born in New York City and raised there. He currently lives there. He was educated at Trinity, Exeter, Williams and Union Theological Seminary. He served in the Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. He founded and edited the prize-winning Renewal Magazine in Chicago and studied with C. A. Doxiadis in Athens. His first books "The Grass Roots Church" and "Who's Killing The Church" established him as a prominent critic of American Protestantism and American religion. He was and remains a civil rights activist. He has interviewed and done in depth pieces on Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King, Jr. He won awards for editorial courage and for two documentary films. He has written and published many songs and musical works including "We Are All Americans". During the late 90s and early 2000s he worked for UN agencies, most recently editing CHOICES Magazine at UNDP. Since 2000 he has written several books for distribution via K…