Aloha Friday Message – 1st Friday of Lent

Read it online here.

Blessings to you, Beloved, on this the First Friday of Lent. I have been contemplating a series for this Lenten Season, and I believe it will be based on the usual readings for the Sundays in Lent – some verse or passage, and then a brief meditation on a specific topic from that reading. It may turn out that most of the topics chosen will come from the Psalms. We’ll see where the Spirit leads. For today, at least, that is where we begin. Here is the chosen passage.

Psalm 51:17 [NIV] My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

[KJV] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

And also exemplars from another pair of sources:

“I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live …” (Ezekiel 33:11)

[KJV] I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [NAB] By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” [Luke 13:5]

I do not wish to take this in the direction of doctrinal debate about salvation by faith alone, or salvation by faith and works. That is outside the purpose of these writings. However, I do wish to examine more closely what it means to repent, for repentance must surely be common ground on which all earthlings can agree. How is that possible?

Every culture, every tribe, every nation, every civilization has recognized that there are inherent principles that separate our actions into good deeds and bad deeds. There evolve patterns of rules that prescribe the kinds of behaviors associated with goodness and badness, sacred and profane. From the 10 Commandments of Moses, the Code of Hammurabi, or the Dharma and Karma of Hinduism and the Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism we can see that earthlings know that abandoning evil and embracing good is the fundamental path toward the goal to peace and contentment. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that pursuing Good while clinging to Evil is illogical and counterproductive. Jesus stated it thus: You cannot serve two masters. Bod Dylan’s lyrics intoned, “Ya gotta serve somebody. It may be the Devil, or it may be the Lord, but ya gotta serve somebody.”

What is contrition? How do you get there? How do you turn loose of sin and embrace sanctity? Where do we find the power of remorse, regret, sorrow, repentance, penitence, guilt, or shame? What is it that convinces us we must choose whom we shall serve if we wish to serve The Good? Is our contrition genuine if it is based on our fear of punishment? Can one repent without genuine shame for thoughts, words, and deeds that cause harm rather than good? What is sincere and effective repentance?

To repent means to “turn around.” It’s like pulling a 180 – first you’re going that way and then whammo you’re going the opposite direction. If that change comes from contrition, from repentance, then it is a 180 that you chose. If you chose that turn-around on the basis of Love – love for God, love for your fellow earthlings – AND you truly intend that this 180 become the new and true course for your life from this moment forward, then that seems to me to be sincere and effective repentance. If you make your 180 because you think the edge of the world is just ahead and you don’t want to fall off and end up in The Abyss, well, maybe that’s not quite “sincere and effective.” If your 180 is a calculated maneuver intended to convince your fellow earthlings you are One of The Good Ones, that seems pretty hokey, agreed? And if your 180 is really only a 47 and in your heart and mind you know that as soon as no other earthling is looking you’re going back to your former life without any intention for permanent change, well, you are a liar and a cheat, and nothing good will come of that because you continue to embrace and serve the “somebody” you outwardly claim to have abandoned.

So, on our Lenten Journey, let us carefully consider our motives for repentance, for contrition, for taking up the conviction that we can be and should be better earthlings because there is a higher and better way to live. Even if you don’t claim any religion or church, even if you profess no creed or do not recognize any rite, even if you foreswear the existence of any divinity whatsoever, you can still recognize that choosing not to harm yourself or others is a desirable pattern for your life. If there is something you can change to improve that status in your life, that change is your repentance.

Let this Lent be a time of introspection and humble discernment which will allow us to experience contrition and effective repentance. I am challenging you to take up something during Lent and not just give up something.

Beloved, pray for all the people who cannot find it within their hearts to repent. Pray for everyone who feels they cannot or should not be forgiven, and pray that they will find that God’s mercy exceeds all their fears. And during this season of Lent, actively search out ways to make the lives of others better. Jesus has atoned for all your sins, but there are things you can do to make the lives of others better that will help you better understand how atonement works. Whatever your motivation to do good things, make it your commitment to do better things right and right things better. It is the way of Love, and that is the ultimate culmination of Lent: Love.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

Age Quod Agis


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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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