Penitence & Forgiveness

For daily reading and devotionals, I am working through Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross. The book has a great introduction to each liturgical season and the weeks therein. Each week moves through various themes of the season and is structured with an opening prayer taken from psalms, daily readings of usually a chapter or so, reflection/response dialogue, and then finishes with a closing collect. I have really enjoyed this book so far and found that I am spending more time with scripture than in the past.

This week the book has been focusing on being ‘blinded with pride’. One of the readings, Psalm 32 (one of the seven penitential psalms), reports the happy release of someone who stops avoiding God and finally acknowledges the sin and guilt that has been eating away within. But why do we keep silent before God? What makes it hard to come clean and to ask forgiveness? Shame? Pride?

The psalmist turns from hiding from God to being hidden in him, from holding out to being held. This psalm calls us to act like humans, able to grow in wisdom and follow from the heart, not like beasts, which constantly must be reined in and made to comply.

Reflecting on forgiveness, the following bit from our Ash Wednesday service came to mind. We went through a litany of penitence, which was very convicting as it addressed our specific shortcomings as a church. I appreciated having that time to reflect on and corporatly confess the sin in my life.

Lord, have mercy on us as:

we have no loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven,

we have been deaf to your call to serve as Christ served us. We have not been true in the mind of Christ. We have grieved you Holy Spirit.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness:

the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,

our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people

our anger at our own frustration, our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves

our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, our dishonesty in daily life and work

our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.

Accept our repentance, Lord for the wrongs we have done:

for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,

for all false judgements, for uncharitable thoughts towards our neighbours and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,

for our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.

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