Back in the 90s, when I was private secretary to Bishop Patrick Kelly of Salford Diocese, he would often say that we should not declare, 'Lord forgive us our faults and failings.' He said this because in his view [and I agree with him], "faults and failings are what happen with railways, not human beings. People commit sins, and we shouldn't be afraid to say the word sin!"
[and I heard this many times as his Master of Ceremonies.]
I was reminded of this when, in the news this week the BBC in its coverage of the long-running Southern Railway dispute causing endless cancellations and delays for daily commuters on its network, pointed out that, in the last seven months, Southern Rail have said "sorry" no less than 38,000 times!
What's the significance of this?
Well, if the only word you have for causing major upset, stress, heartache, job losses and loss of income through continuous and obstinate disruptions, which are mostly caused by individuals, is "fault and failing" rather than sin and selfishness - then "sorry" is an easy word, and it is one that becomes cheapened by its frequent use (38,000 times so far).
Their constant use of 'sorry' is now a devalued currency.
The words "forgive me" and "forgiveness" however carry much more weight because they denote an exchange must take place. It's a request that demands a response.
In this same week leading up to the final preparations for the celebration of the birth of Christ, let us remember that to enjoy His deep serenity of grace, we must be prepared to forgive and ask for forgiveness. This preparation allows His light to shine in the dark corners of our lives and bathe us in the peace we so richly deserve and yearn for.
This is my last blog of 2016.
May your homes and hearts bask in the comfort the Lord and the Lord alone can bring this Christmas time.
Until next year,