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" ... and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”                 Matthew 6: 12 – (AD 30 Jesus teaching his disciples to pray to the Father)


Jersey's Citizens Advice Bureau is deeply concerned about the increasing number of Jersey folk who have serious problems with debt. Debt is terribly easy to create but terribly difficult to repay.


The banks in Jersey have enormous debts. Hidden behind the facades of impressive buildings (by Jersey standards) on the Esplanade and elsewhere are levels of debt that have risen, at the most recent count from Jersey Finance, to a total of £166,900,000,000. It's all owed to depositors - depositors who have lent them money for a time and receive interest in return.


The Jersey Financial Services Commission monitors the debts owed by the banks and seeks to ensure that all depositors will indeed be repaid what they are owed at the right time. Jersey's CAB monitors the debts owed by folk to banks and credit card companies and is concerned about the pressures on each debtor to repay those debts. 


It seems that Jesus Christ, when he instructed his key followers about how to pray, was also concerned about debts - about what we owe to the Father. We tend, wringly, to assume that God owes us everything because when things go wrong we shout at him, “Why me?


The Bible never tries to persuade us that the God of the Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of absolutely everything - or that everything on earth is owned by Him - it just takes that as a given. "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." With these words a Pharisee named Paul, around AD 35 and now a follower of the resurrected Jesus Christ, addressed folk in Athens, Greece.


Unlike Jersey's banks, then, God is not a debtor - he does not owe anything to anybody. He owns everything that anybody has - and he has given everything to all humankind - especially life and breath – to enjoy. But we take what others should enjoy and make it our own. 


But life and breath? My life and breath? Those are beyond value - beyond, even, £166.9 billion. If only I could keep life and breath. If only they were under my control. If only I did not fall ill. If only I could turn back the clock a few seconds after that fatal car accident and thereby avoid it. If only life and breath could be deposited with a bank, be safely kept and be returned when needed.


But they are a gift from God - for a time - deposited with us by him so that we (as the Apostle Paul went on to say in Athens) "should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way towards him and find him". And actually find him - the only source of life and breath.


What then were the debts that Jesus of Nazareth wanted his key followers regularly to ask the Father to forgive? Well, the debt owed for "life and breath and everything", of course...... Just as an increasing number of debtors come to Jersey's CAB for help these days, Jesus taught His followers earnestly to request the Father daily that they be forgiven the debts that they cannot repay other than by giving him the whole - every single part - of their life and breath....


Proceedings for debt recovery are an awful pressure for Jersey's CAB folk. And God also sends reminders of our debt - by way of illness and decline and bereavement. And His debt recovery cases remain on the pending list in a higher court - the Royal Court above.


The cases are headed “Almighty God, the life and breath provider v. every man and woman.”


Pleadings, that is, prayers, may be submitted. The model prayer that Jesus Christ taught His disciples (see above) is available for use but  cannot be lodged after death.


Most important of all in judicial matters the prayer for debt release must be expressed in open sincerity and truth.....

‘All that I am I owe to Thee, my gracious God, alone.’ (H. Bonar, Hymn writer, 1808-1809)....
‘Death takes away the difference between king and beggar, and tumbles both the knight and the pawn into one bag.'  (Thomas Adams, English playwright, 1583-1652)
Richard Syvret

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