Devotion and Prayer for Week of March 4, 2012

Meditation for the Week of March 4, 2012

 

“…Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.  ‘The time has come,’ he said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.  Repent and believe the good news!’”

                                                                                 Mark 1: 14-15

 

Come February 22nd and Ash Wednesday, we once again entered the season of Lent.  Lent, of course, is that period of 40 days preceding Easter and has always been understood as a time for repentance.  Now, 40 days may seem like a long time to concentrate on “repentance,” but, in truth, if we truly and seriously pause to reflect upon our sin, 40 days seems far too short.

It is not in our nature to repent.  We don’t like to admit to anyone (much less God) that we have done something wrong.  Oh, we have no trouble seeing the fault in others and pointing out their flaws.  However, when the magnifying glass is turned on our own hearts, we bristle.  Consequently, repenting is seen as an unpleasant and negative thing; something to be avoided.

That is a shame because our Lord does not view it that way at all.  Repentance in the eyes of Jesus is a good thing.  Note what Jesus says in the above passage from Mark.  This was right at the beginning of his ministry.  He had just started to preach and the message he preached was one of repentance.  However, as Mark says, Jesus went into Galilee “proclaiming the good news of God” and his good news message was for all to repent and believe.

Jesus’ call to repent is his invitation for sinners to return to God.  It is not a divine version of the “third degree” where Jesus gets to call us on the carpet for all the bad we have done.  It is not his chance to beat us up a bit and make us feel badly.  Rather, it is Jesus calling us back to him so that he might forgive us and renew our relationship with him.

What Jesus knows, and what we so often fail to understand, is that sin separates us from our Lord.  Sin drives us further and further in the opposite direction of God.  Ultimately, it leads to our death because it distances us from our source of life; we need God in order to live.  With repentance, Jesus wants to remove the obstacle that distances us from God.  Repentance is a turning away from sin and back to God who is waiting to forgive us and welcome us back for the sake of Jesus’ death on the cross.  When Jesus calls us to repent, it is nothing less than him saying, “Come back to me!”

And that is why we spend forty days in Lent focusing on repentance.  It is a forty-day invitation to come back to Jesus who wants us to bring all of our sin and lay it at the foot of his cross.  His desire is that we leave all our sin there that we might walk away forgiven, renewed and with a good conscience before our Lord.  It is a gift.

So, this Lent, heed the invitation of our Lord.  “Repent and believe the good news!”  His forgiveness awaits!

 

Weekly Prayer

O Lord, each one of your commandments accuses me, how often I have sinned against others.  I throw myself in the dust before you and pray you to be gracious to me a poor sinful being.  Graciously let your Word and the Holy Spirit change me and move my heart and speech to show true love for my neighbor. In Jesus’ name. Amen