Yours, Mine, and Ours - Elizabeth Shaner

Don't you love the feeling of an "Aha!" moment?  On a neurological level, it feels great because the brain is rewarded with a rush of dopamine. On an emotional level (for me) it makes me feel excited, joyful, and content.  I had an "Aha!" moment in church a few weeks ago during the end of Epiphany--no pun intended.

I was struck by the use of the pronoun "us" and "we" in our regular liturgy, particularly in the Confession of Sin and the Lord's Prayer.  I realized every time I recite those words, I think about the evil I have done or that has been done on my behalf.  My Father in Heaven.  Asking God to forgive me, as I forgive those who trespass against me.  I say the words "we" and "us," but I'm not thinking in those terms.  My personal petitions to God--and the things I probably should not have done during the week--run through my mind.  I also find myself listening to the sound of my own voice; the voice of the person in front of or behind me; or the sound of the congregation speaking in unison--usually in that order.  On this particular day, I listened to my voice briefly, then the whole congregation, and I thought about how the literal reason we say "we" and "us" is because we are all praying for our individual needs at the same time.  But what if we repent not only for our individual sins, but for each others'? Asking God to forgive me, and asking God to forgive the sins of the person in front of me?  Praying not to my Father, but a God who is yours, mine, and ours?

In many ways, I consider Lent  an "I" focused season that can sometimes be isolating, but approaching the liturgy in this way during Lent has been very meaningful for me.