Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lent 2 - The Rough Road of Penance

Let us consider one another to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Why is it that the Scripture takes up space to tell us to fellowship with one another? Do we dislike each other so much that we need to be commanded to assemble with one another? I don’t think so. No, I think it simply is that our Savior knows us far too well.

Humanity’s first sin was the sin of pride. We simply wanted to make the rules for ourselves. We did not want to bow to any deity we did not create. The Scriptures warn us, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”[1]

On this Second Sunday in Lent we think about penance. Penance is not about works or rituals that bring about forgiveness. Penance is about expressing our sincere desire to be forgiven. The actions involved in “doing penance” do not bring forgiveness. Rather, they show our desire and punctuate our request that Christ would grant us his infinite mercy.

Through penance we humble ourselves before our Savior and, sometimes, one another. How humble are you willing to become? How hard of a road are you willing to travel? 

Humility gives voice to an inner need. It is that same humbling that encourages us to assemble together, the knowledge that we will not make it on this rough road if we try to journey its length on our own. We are called to be there for one another, to put aside every aspect of pride, coming before the body of our brothers and sisters and saying, as simply as we know how, “I need help.”

We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.

Penance calls us from the life of individuality we would wish for and away from the retirement we seek. It encourages us to heed the words of our Savior when he says, "Go and tell My brethren."

Pastor Craig

[1] Proverbs 16:18