Good morning! Here we go for 40 Days of Reconciliation during Lent. I am anticipating God working in and around me as I focus intentionally on Him. My challenge is that during Lent, from now to Easter we give something up, take something on, read the scripture daily, and pray daily. (I recommend praying three times a day in purposeful, dedicated prayer.) The Scripture reading for today us Psalm 51 and John 1:1-18.
Let’s start with some words. Lent, not the dust bunnies under your bed, Lent is the season of the spring where Christians all over the world focus on their walk with God. And particularly the price that Christ paid to reconcile us to Himself. It begins Ash Wednesday (today) and ends on the Saturday before Easter and does not include Sundays. It is forty days because of the 40 days of suffering Jesus began in the wilderness to initiate His ministry. Lent means begin.
What is penance? Lent is a time of penance where Christians usually give up one tangible thing for 40 days, bread, facebook, golf, sweets. I smoke one cigarette every year on the Tuesday before Lent then I can give up smoking for Lent. (I’m just kidding.) The power is not in what you give up. The power is in putting Christ and your relationship with Him above your own wants or habits. Here’s a thought on giving up from Pope Francis that my friend Lea sent me, It’s good. It’s included here.
There are lots of ways to do penance during Lent. But that leads to another word, repentance. Penance without repentance is just a diet. Repentance is a contrition, a sorrow for your sinfulness and a determination to turn away from sin and move back to God. I’m not talking about some horrible, heathenistic, wicked practice that you need to repent of, although King David writes Psalm 51 after his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah, her husband. He says, “My sin is ever before me. Against You and You only God have I sinned.” Some of us have been there. Can I get a witness?
For today repentance may just be about a thought, an attitude, a spirit of envy or bitterness or frustration that we have allowed to creep in toward the other. My penance may be about my repentance of allowing an unforgiving spirit to rise between me and my sister. “But you don’t know what she did?” John 1:14 in the MSG says, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”
Jesus, The Word, became human, suffered, did penance, to show us His true generous nature and to bring us to repentance, so that we could have reconciliation. Reconciliation, to be brought back, to God, to our true selves, to others.
So, for the next 40 days would you give something up? That something might be a hurt feeling, a bitter memory. And would you pick something up? Maybe a telephone? Let’s start moving toward reconciliation. Now, where is my sister’s phone number?…