Reblogged from: Spirit Stirrer
The invitation to Lent in the United Methodist ritual reminds us that Lent “was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church.”
Lent, like spring, is a time of new beginning, a time of blooming, a time of restoration. The winter season is past, the dryness, coldness, and darkness of winter is replaced by a new creation, beautiful, colorful, full of life.
It makes sense that we gather on Ash Wednesday to be reconciled. Maybe we do not consider any of our actions “serious sins,” maybe our doings were more mundane: a bad attitude, a strong word, a lack of understanding. Whatever it was if we are honest with ourselves we recognize that it placed us outside, it hindered relationship with God, others, or both.
The Christian tradition calls us constantly to be reconciled. At the core of our story of faith is the idea that God sent a savior so that we could be restored, we could be reconciled to God and to each other. A relationship was broken, something needed to be done so God provided the way. Those of us who have experienced reconciliation, are now called to be about the ministry of reconciliation in the world (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Reconciliation cannot be taken lightly. It requires more than an “I’m sorry,” or even an “I’ll never do it again,” it takes a changed heart, a transformed spirit, a gift of grace. Left to our own devices we would either never reconcile, too proud to acknowledge any wrongdoing, or jump to a superficial reconciliation, where no one does the difficult work, the soul work, required for a truly renewed relationship.
Because of its difficulties any attempt at reconciliation begins with self-examination. How have our actions or inaction broken our relationships? How have our attitudes and ways of life become hindrances to experiencing life as a gift, to experience others as gifts, to experience God as the source of all that is? What needs to change in us in order for reconciliation to take place? These are difficult questions that necessitate a community, a community of reconciliation, to help each of us lean into the answers that will restore us.
Reconciliation requires repentance. Before the Eucharist