And thanks for the suggestion.
On a personal note, I barked at my son today over some egregious error on his part (I think he was slow in getting his seat belt on). The sound of my own voice appalled me. I apologized to him and kissed him and he looked up at me with his beautiful brown eyes and said, "Oh, Mom, even when you don't say you're sorry, I forgive you." This set me to musing about all the ways we say we are sorry that go beyond words. Overemphasing the words can mean that contrite behavior gets short shrift.
Hello, all you deep thinkers. I think the subject of forgiveness of sins deserves a heading of its own, it being the "KEY" on which the entire exclusivity of the OALC (and apparently other Laestadian churches) is based. I had an epiphany on this subject some time ago, namely: We were taught that "Christians" held the keys, and "whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained." So therefore, in order to be forgiven and have a shot at "eternal life," we had to have our sins forgiven by another "Christian." Period. But this forgiveness is hollow, if the forgiver does not also have the right to refuse to forgive. By this reasoning, mere humans have the right and power to consign other humans to everlasting hell and damnation. Poppycock, I say. That cannot possibly be the correct interpretation. God forgives. We ONLY need God to forgive us. And we can ask him directly, as you say. Of course, if we wrong someone, we should ask their forgiveness AND ATTEMPT TO RIGHT THE WRONG (not part of the OALC teaching, and an error, in my opinion). But this wailing and carrying on on the necks of other "Christians" about "being such a poor example, hardness of heart" and whatever are the "generic sins du jour" is, well, mostly a contrived attempt to guarantee entrance into heaven. In my opinion, there is very little true remorse, even less real sin, perhaps some self-indulgent purging, plenty of mis-placed guilt, an escape from consequences, and a diversion of our attention away from LOVING EACH OTHER. It may sound extreme, but I think OALC has elevated the forgiveness of sins into a false god. Repentance uber alles. What about loving our neighbor, visiting the sick, alms to the poor, inviting your local prostitute to lunch? Do we REALLY do what Jesus enjoined us to do? Not by a long shot, but we think wailing and carrying on gets us off the hook. (As a classic Laestadianism, my sister-in-law said that God knew we could not actually carry out the injunction to LOVE EACH OTHER and so he gave us forgiveness of sins as an alternative way to get into heaven).
I could go on and on. I would be curious to know your thoughts on this most central subject.
May we be blessed with great wisdom and forgiving hearts. MTH