Excerpted from the Council’s 2019 Lenten Reflection Guide for Lectionary Year C.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for
Whatever the condition of my heart and mind during a typical worship service one often repeated prayer both challenges and centers me, “. . . by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.”
Like many, I sometimes enter worship with a mind overloaded with responsibilities. On the occasion that singing hymns and hearing scripture fails to focus me, reciting the Confession of Sin from my faith tradition always brings me back. Growing up, the sins I confessed were pretty specific and followed by earnest promises to do better. As I’ve grown older (maybe wiser?) I find the things I’ve done and left undone much more difficult to define. The world I see every day is filled with injustice. The injustices I read about as a teenager, were thought to be over and done with and not repeated. Now my sins tend to be more relational. How are the things I choose to do with my time and the things I don’t do hurting others?
The things I leave undone every week lie heavy on my heart. My mind still swirls but instead of thinking of my to-do list, I think of all the people who are suffering. I know as a follower of Christ, I have a responsibility not only to care, but to act. I suddenly realize that as a white, straight, employed, able, woman, I walk into worship with no thought of whether I fit in, how I will get home, or whether I will have enough food for dinner. There is so much to do in a world where injustice is not only present, but appears to be growing in acceptance. Every time I pray these words, “the things I have left undone,” I become overwhelmed with all the need in our world. And then I remember, I am a participant in God’s good work. It is God’s work to accomplish and I have the privilege of stepping into that stream for the time that I am able. My hard work is a response to God’s gifts to me.
Into that work, God offers hope and determination. “Have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways.” As I move from confession into the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, I find peace by naming my sins and knowing God’s forgiveness. I am renewed for the next day.
As we all move through the season of Lent, let us acknowledge our communal sins, repent, and claim the forgiveness freely given by Christ, as we join God’s work for a more just society and peace for God’s people.