Scripture Index: NIV, The Message, NRSV, ESV
Today marks the beginning of Lent and it will continue for the next 46 days until Saturday, the 23rd of April. In Western Christianity Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 9th) and concludes on Holy Saturday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter”, a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. Unfortunately, Lent has some baggage associated with it. I think there are many who see Lent as a period of dreariness where one must be overridden with guilt, shame and self-denial. The season of Advent, the days leading up to Christmas, seems to have much more emotions of joy and celebration associated with it. The merry anticipation for Christmas can even be found outside the church as corporations pummel us with advertisements for Black Friday and holiday sales. However, Lent commemorates the time when Jesus, having just received baptism from John the Baptist, retreated to the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. He filled his time with fasting and prayer as he endured through various temptations from Satan. Fasting? Prayer? For 40 days and 40 nights? I do not think you will be seeing commercials from McDonald’s or Domino’s Pizza reminding us that the season of Lent is at hand.
Yes, the season of Lent has what some might consider “dreary” themes: repentance, discipline, sin and confession. However, Psalm 32 reminds us that these themes are not to be viewed with eyes of shame or anxiety. It is tough to view ideas of repentance objectively sometimes, as our culture often produces individuals who refrain from having a contrite heart. Finding public figures that own up to their failures and mistakes are few and far between. When faced with a moment of apology they will often replace “I’m sorry” with “I regret”. Psalm 32 offers quite a different worldview: one of seeking for forgiveness. That is where true happiness resides. Further, happiness and joy is also found in living a life of integrity (v.2). The torture often continues when we hold our secret sins close to us. Guilt, shame and anxiety overtake us when we keep silent (v.3). Ironically, the freedom comes when we own up to our mistakes and Psalm 32 reminds us that God’s love is steadfast and God’s love surrounds us (v.10). Rather than us pursuing happiness, it is God who chases after us and is on high pursuit. Another Psalmist put it this way: “Surely goodness and mercy shall chase after me all the days of my life…” (Psalm 23:6).
Forgive me, God, for anything I didn’t do today which I
might have done.
Forgive me for any help I might have given today which I did not give. Help me to learn the lesson that selfishness and happiness can never go together. Amen
Quote of the Week
“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”
- Reinhold Neibuhr -
In : Forgiveness
Tags: lent love repentance