Monday, March 2, 2015

Second Sunday in Lent

The Henri Nouwen discussion group is looking at pages 21-53 of The Prodigal Son this second week of Lent. Several questions were asked; here is one.
    Henri distinguishes between “a self-serving repentance that offers the possibility of survival” (p 47) and a repentance that involves a breaking “away from my deep-rooted rebellion against God and surrendering myself so absolutely to God’s love that a new person can emerge…Receiving forgiveness requires a total willingness to let God be God and do all the healing, restoring, and renewing” (p 48). Explain differences.
This post also connects with Angela in her “Pause for Lent” series

We are all in that state of disgrace at almost any point in time when as members of the human race, we have offended others by thought, word or deed.

My disgrace, or need for apology, can be as simple an offense as speaking at the wrong time or place, or speaking thoughtlessly to another. Or it can be grievous, so grievous that words cannot brought forth to ask for forgiveness from another.

A self-serving repentance of saying “I'm sorry” is sometimes said when one is not at all ashamed or repentant of an act or deed. As in “I am sorry if (insert action) offended you.” Perhaps I have said “I am sorry that I do not care to watch that violent television show,” which is in no way an apology, merely a fact stated. Or if I say “I am sorry to bring this up, but...” and then I state my self-righteous opinion.

Neither instance shows that I am sorry for what I said, but “sorry” that you might offended by it. One could hardly term that an apology, just an acknowledgement of the others' misinterpretation of my words. And how many times have I done that? Too many, the answer. That type “apology,” if it can be termed as such, merely allows me to go one with social convention, continuing with a conversation.

But when I am truly sorry, certainly asking forgiveness, is much more difficult a task. It is so onerous a task that to even dredge up an instance brings me embarrassment, perhaps shame. This type of asking for forgiveness is often only asked of God, in the dark secretiveness of the prayer closet. A sincere prayer, breaking away from rebellion against God, is heart wrenching in its truthfulness, and brings forth a new person, forgiven and free to live a different life. This type of honesty with God and seeking of forgiveness and a new life brought me to a new relationship with Him after a painful marital divorce.

My prayer during this Lenten season is that my talks with my God are ones that bring me further toward His grace, being renewed with restoration, healing and strength.

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