Aloha Friday Message – March 8, 2019 – 2019 Lenten Series #1

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    Sirach 17:24-29 24 Yet to those who repent he grants a return, and he encourages those who are losing hope. 25 Turn back to the Lord and forsake your sins; pray in his presence and lessen your offense. 26 Return to the Most High and turn away from iniquity, and hate intensely what he abhors. 27 Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades in place of the living who give thanks? 28 From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased; those who are alive and well sing the Lord’s praises. 29 How great is the mercy of the Lord, and his forgiveness for those who return to him!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Today is the first Friday of Lent, 2019 and the beginning of a series on the word metanoia. That word has come up before a few times, but in this series we will be using it often. It is a word Jesus used at the beginning of his ministry and the Apostle Paul also used it (although not always where we correctly remember him saying it.) Here are three examples. The first is from John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2, Mark 1:4, and Luke 3:3“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The Second example is from Jesus at the start of his ministry in Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, and Luke 5:3217 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” The third example appears first in Acts 2:38 in Peter’s Pentecost Preaching – 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We know that repentance is an integral part of God’s plan for salvation, and metanoia is the word most often used in both the Old Testament and New Testament for the concept of repentance. Let’s make a quick review of the definition for metanoia. The word in Greek looks like this: μετάνοια, – metanoia {met-an’-oy-ah}. It is a change of heart, a change of mind, or a change of direction as in a one-eighty turn. A closely-related word is μετανοέω – metanoéō {met-an-o-eh’-o}. We should also pointed out – quite rightly – that μετάνοια, – metanoia is a change not only in heart and mind but also (and most importantly) a change in actions and behavior. Both come from the same root meanings meta – above, beyond, higher; and noein to think from nuos – mind. So, metanoia is to move beyond where our hearts and minds are to a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and feeling and seeing everything in life. When we repent, we have a change of mind – not a renewing of mind (See Romans 1:12). Another way to think of it is we quash, break, nullify, defeat, or conquer a temptation that is repeatedly before us; we break a bad habit; we realign our values-system so that it aligns more closely with God’s values. WE make an effort to sin less even though we know we can never be sinless. Repentance restores our relationship with God, and often it also restores our relationships with community, family, and friends. It gives back to us the whatever or the whomever we lost because of sin; it even gives us back to us. It’s not a matter of time – how long we are away, or of intensity – how greatly we’ve sinned. It is a matter of turning around and going back, repenting. There’s a flip side to that, and that’s what is behind the page.

Repentance restores us back to God. Intellectually, we know God doesn’t move away from us, he doesn’t take off to some mountaintop and sulk because we’ve decided to ignore him. No, he stands at the ready, eager for us to turn around and say, “Father! Abba! I’m back!” We have come back to God, and suddenly we discover God is “back with us.” While we are lost in sin, we cannot encounter God, our Loving Father who is so crazy in love with us that he can’t wait to get us back. He watches for us, reaches for us, comes out to meet us. He helps us find that lost sheep and the coin that escaped our control. Those are things and he cares about them, too; but he cares about us more! He loves us. Well, duh! Of course he does. He made us for the sake of Love. He also redeemed us for the sake of love, and when we accept that redemption, God and the angels in heaven (and saints, too, I reckon) rejoice as a community over our repentance. Why? Because that means they will get to share eternity with us – with God and the angels and saints. But there’s one angel that will not rejoice. He’s the angel that says (and is always telling us), “What’s in it for me?”

As we work through this series, we will also use the “Journalistic Outline Questions,” where, why, who, and so on. Let’s begin, then, with “Where?” Where do we repent? To answer that question, we need to look at where we sin. Where do we sin? Is it a physical place? No, it’s not really like that. We can sin in any location – a home, at work, even in church. Sin is a spiritual predicament, a drawback in our day-to-day living that gets between our life and God’s Life. Our spirit comes from God and it is like him for God is Spirit, and we must worship him (and Love him) in Spirit and in Truth, so I would posit that it’s not in our Spirit that we sin – in fact I’d say we sin against our Spirit. So what does that leave? What part of our spiritual life isn’t Spirit? Let’s take a quick clue from Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, “I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin”? Looking back to Genesis 6:5, we read, The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. It is in our hearts and minds that we sin. Imagination, the gift of thought, is one of God’s greatest gifts. It must have been in us even before the Fall, because Eve and Adam were able to imagine what it would be like to be more like God. That was the first instance where earthlings misused the gift of thought and instead of thinking up something good, something evil entered the heart and mind of humanity. The Hebrew word root used here is יֵ֫צֶר (yetser) {yay’-tser} – thought, the forming of ideas in the mind, imagination, mind, frame / framework. It is also translated as inclination of the human heart. If that is where we sin, perhaps that is where we begin to repent. What will we find if we look – right now – into our hearts? Will it be The Word?

One passage that has stayed with me for over fifty years is Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. As I grew (and grow) older, that verse has been and will be the needle in my compass. It reminds me that when I need to know what’s what, I need to go to the Word, especially the Word in my heart. The verse just before that was also one that formed a strong childhood memory. Together they look like this: Psalm 119:10-11 10 With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. 11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.  When we choose to face the fact that we are sinners, we have to make an intelligent, objective assessment of what is in our hearts and for that “you have to use your head.” I’m betting that both you and I can say that often when we sin, it’s because we weren’t using our heads … or we were misusing our imagination! We use our mind to recognize the effect of sin. We feel the effect, but until we admit that that discomfort is the result of sin, we can’t repent. Let’s touch briefly on The 7 R’s to see how that works.

Psalm 51:17 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

    Contrite: Sorry; remorseful; repentant; regretful; apologetic; penitent; ashamed. Contrition is the a priori condition for repentance. If we only recognize our sin, we are aware we are sinful, but if we recognize and regret our sin – when we feel remorse for what we have done – we have achieved contrition. You may recall The 7 R’s. The first 3 are Recognition, Remorse, and Repentance. Contrition leads to repentance – or at least it should. This leads to extraordinary graces. You can read about those here: Psalm 103:1-5. All three of these first R’s begin in the heart and are seen with the mind. “Where” we sin is in our hearts, and that is where our repentance must begin as well. Our μετάνοια – metanoiamust begin there to be effective. Turn back to the Lord and forsake your sins; pray in his presence and lessen your offense. God himself has told us he will forgive our sins and remember them no more (Jeremiah 31:34 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. – See also Hebrews 8:12, 10:17). That’s a pretty good deal for just turning around and going back! And it’s not really all that much trouble, either. The Word is right where God left it and we treasured it – in our hearts! Deuteronomy 30:14 14 No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. Listen – he calling us Come Back to ME. (↔ Music Link)

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

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

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

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