Lent is a big time of the year for me. Liturgically, I don’t like it as much as Advent. I prefer the hopefulness and longing of Advent to the repentance and asceticism of Lent. I prefer the communal aspect of Advent, the shared longing for Christmas. Lent is always more individual, more about the personal soul work that each person, before God, has to do. But Lent, personally, carries far more weight than does Advent. It was in Lent of 2013 that I first began my journey back to orthodoxy, that I felt again, after the desert, the movement of my soul toward God. Lent of 2013 culminated in the Good Friday service that Drew, Eric, and I created–the service in which I had the third conversion of my life (the first was my baptism at 9; the second was my acknowledgment of spiritual poverty at 16).
Lent, with its theme of reptenance, can have the tendency to devolve into me hitting myself over the head about how screwed up I am. But, at its best, this season of reptentance and drawing close to God gives the believer six weeks to walk with Jesus as he heads toward Jerusalem and death. Lent is the preparatory time one gets after the diagnosis of a terminal illness to set ones affairs in order. In Lent, we repent of our sins.
Repentance cannot be avoided. In the Ash Wednesday service from the Book of Common Prayer (like the service Amanda and I will attend tomorrow at Christ Church, Plano), there is a series of confessions that lead one to repent of sin.
Sin is intemperance. Or negligence.
Sin is folly and sin is failure.
Sin is mean spirited and malicious.
Sin is uncharitable and hypocritical.
Sin is a disruption of web of relationships. It is the breaking of shalom.
The confession that sticks most in my mind is this one:
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: thepride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.
And repentance is a plea to God for restoration. A request for him to heal the rip.
Repentance is trusting that the darkness, negligence, ignorance, folly, failure, intemperance, malice, judgement, and hypocrisy will be overwhelmed by love.
The opposite of sin is not obedience to commands. The opposite of sin is love.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
And it is willingly participating in that process of restoration.
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Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us; Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.