Lent starts today with Ash Wednesday, when there is traditionally a focus on repentance. Some corners of the church went a bit overboard on the confession thing for a while, and then other corners of the church pushed against that by minimising it or dropping it completely, and so I suspect that many of us don’t see penance as a regular part of our worship or prayer lives. As with most things, I suspect there is a middle way.
Recognising where we have gone wrong “in thought and word and deed, in what we have done and in what we have failed to do” isn’t all about beating ourselves over the head and wallowing in our own guilt. It helps us to see where we need to make amends and where we need to get back on track. And it certainly doesn’t make grace conditional. It opens us up to recognise the healing power of God.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” and we don’t allow ourselves to do better or to really appreciate what it means to be loved and forgiven in spite of everything. So perhaps this Ash Wednesday you might like to take a few minutes to reflect on where things have gone or are going wrong in your own life, and then pray Psalm 51 which calls out to God with both despair and hope.
40thoughts: wake early
40acts: who is in your circle?
Leeds Prayer Diary: Pray For Leeds