Have you ever considered the objective of self-reflection and penitence? Contrary to popular opinion, practicing repentance is not about applying guilt and shame. Rather, metanoia (repentance) is opening oneself to a conversion of heart and mind. Metanoia is meant to be freeing and life-giving!
From my recent sermon…
“Repent” was the first word Jesus uttered after his baptism as he added, “for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repent is a misunderstood word. It does not mean saying you’re sorry and you won’t do it again. It doesn’t just mean changing direction. The Greek word metanoia, translated as “repent,” carries deeper meaning. Meta means “change” and noia means “knowledge. “
Jesus calls his disciples to change how they think the world works. Align with God’s deepest yearning. Open hearts to a new consciousness of God’s real hope. As St. Paul says, “Have the mind of Christ.” Paul also says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
In calling us to repentance, Jesus wants us to change our consciousness, broaden our vision, and resonate with God’s hope: To bring into our present the future reality of the Kingdon of God. To grow in compassion and mercy. To forgive and reconcile – even and especially with our enemies. To love and welcome all people, especially outsiders, outcasts and sinners.
Yes, we are to be hospitable even to ourselves. Sometimes we need to welcome God’s love and mercy for ourselves. We need to seek and receive forgiveness and an assurance of absolution.
This is why I propose trying these two simple and life-giving disciplines during the remainder of Lent and Holy Week:
Try taking a quiet walk while meditating on the Stations of the Cross, which are situated around the Dogwood Chapel. A laminated prayer guide is available there, with reflections on Jesus’ journey to the Cross. This practice leads you into humble self-reflection and repentance, as well as reflection on God’s boundless mercy and love.
Also, consider scheduling a private Sacrament of Confession with Rev. Lynn or Rev. Celal, a sacred, one-on-one encounter, in which you make a confidential confession and receive the healing and restoration of absolution. (The sacrament of confession, called “Reconciliation of a Penitent,” can be found in our Book of Common Prayer, page 447.)
Rev. Martin Smith writes: “The practice of confession and absolution can be a significant encounter with the Christ who pardons, heals, and embraces us in love. It can signal a dramatic turning point, or simply serve as one of many small conversions along the Christian journey.”
As we open our hearts, confess, and receive the healing grace of divine mercy, we will begin to produce the fruit of repentance. St. Paul describes these fruits of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, generosity, self-control, and kindness. As we experience metanoia, we will soon find ourselves producing these fruits.
Ultimately, we will find ourselves being less judgmental and more compassionate, not only to others, but to ourselves.
Blessings for a deeply meaningful and healing Lent and Holy Week,