Father, Forgive Us All

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Some part of me issues a “knee-jerk” reaction to the way our culture treats Christian holydays. We did this at Christmas, and we’re doing it again. For whatever reason, mainstream media have largely decided that Christian holy days are occasions for airing the most specious programs. Whether its more of the DaVinci nonsense or a focus on the “Christian Right,” almost everything but a quiet and reverent moment of reflection or something similar (I imagine).

As I say, some part of me reacts – but I suppose that is my own sin. It would be possible (given my schedule) to see no media at all this week (perhaps even salutary). But even a newspaper at lunch brought with it an interview with Marcus Borg (the New Testament scholar) that was, to be kind, less than orthodox.

But the world that I live in has afforded Christians many opportunities to bear witness. We have not been persecuted (not in any significant sense). We have been able both to practice our faith and certainly, “to let our light shine so that others may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” But it is clearly the case that Christians have not done the latter – at least not to an extent that has made a profound impression. If the world of American mass culture has little respect for Christ, it is not the masters of culture we have to blame, but rather to say, “Father, forgive us all.”

The masters of culture do not profess to be believers (or not many of them do). But I profess to be a believer and yet I stand in need of forgiveness. In last night’s service a question was put to Judas in one of the hymns:

What caused you to betray the Savior, O Judas?

Did He expel you from the ranks of the Apostles?

Did He take from you the gift of healing?

Did He send you from the table while taking supper with the others?

Did He wash their feet and pass you by?

How have you forgotten such good things?

Your ingratitude is notorious,

But His boundless long-suffering and great mercy are proclaimed to all.

The poignancy of the questions could be (and are meant to be) universal. What has God done to us such that we betray Him (as we do). I cannot expect otherwise from someone who does not know Him, who does not profess to believe. It’s my own outrageous conduct and unbelief that is far more at fault. I can be grateful this year that the masters of our culture did not decide to do an upclose focus on my life as an Easter story. The scandal would be greater, and my excuses of no avail. Father, forgive us all, particularly those of us who profess to know Thee.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



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6 responses to “Father, Forgive Us All”

  1. Steve Avatar

    Now here’s a shame: on Good Friday the OCA website is down.

    Microsoft JET Database Engine error ‘80004005’

    Unspecified error

    /index.asp, line 17

    I’m not sure who to call (any phone number I’d call would probably be found on the oca.org website), or I’d send someone a note.

  2. Fatherstephen Avatar
    Fatherstephen

    No one to call. The office is closed. We’ll have to live with it until it’s back up.

  3. fatherstephen Avatar

    Looking at blogstats today. I am actually gratified that viewing is down. I have a few minutes between things to monitor and post and I find it relaxing and less tempting than many other options. But I am glad that most of us are otherwise engaged on Good Friday.

    I have to say again, that I was deeply moved by the earlier posting from India. We have been translated into Romanian and Serbian, and I know that English is a primary language in India. Nonetheless I am humbled by the fact that the internet is such an international event. May God make us all closer and more aware of one another, and more given to prayer for each other.

    Christ gave Himself for us all. Thanks be to God!

  4. EYTYXOΣ Avatar

    I sometimes find myself (or my mind) almost reeling at the richness of the language of the Liturgy and services. I thank my Evangelical/Charismatic/non-denominational/Bible-church background, as well as my own reading, for acquainting me with the Scriptures so that what I hear is familiar and understood. However, I had never experienced texts and themes being woven together or played off against each other or elaborated upon in the manner I hear during Holy Week and throughout the year in the Orthodox Church. I could never, ever, ever go back.

  5. Alice C. Linsley Avatar
    Alice C. Linsley

    This part of the liturgy was especially difficult for me because I often forget that HE is in everything good thing. Each question struck my heart so that I actually felt pain. Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

  6. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    There was a piece in the Wichita, Ks paper that essentially said science casts dobut on the truth of the Christian faith (only the Chrisitian faith) and then interviewed some people from some Faith Evangelcial Tabnernacle Church or something like that and go the guaranteed response that faith was all that mattered. This article is published on Easter Sunday as the lead story in the Faith and Values section of the paper.

    Can anyone imagine if a similar article had been published about Islam during Ramadan or Judaism during Yom Kippur what the outcry would be?

    In a way it is indicative of the power of the Resurrected Christ even when we poor, miserable sinners pay as little attention as possible to actually following Him. Unbelievers feel compelled to attack Him.

    A case in point, a young atheist man still living in his parents home when to Pascha with a Greek friend of mine. The young man had told his father were he was and what he was going to be doing before he went. The young man’s father claimed otherwise and punished his son for “being out so late”

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