Repentance. A complex word—perhaps including regret, or contrition, or even shame. Is it “I’m sorry?” I hear this often from my wonderful granddaughter, who, as a normal 2-1/2 year-old, tests boundaries, not in-frequently stepping over the line. Mommy steps in—“Say ‘I’m sorry to Gammy and Papa.’” Several requests later we hear a muffled “I’m sorry,” head buried in our stomachs for the requested hug.
She is sorry, perhaps regretful—but chiefly because she was caught. True repentance expands far beyond this. Who are we when we repent? To whom do we repent? And how or why do we repent? Metanoia is the word most commonly used for repentance—meta meaning beyond, and noia mind. We move beyond our ego-mind—me, mine, my kind, to a more expansive and heartful identity with what is. We begin to sense God is in us, and we in God. What does repentance mean in this context? Jesus’ words on the cross with the two criminals point us to the path (since repentance must be a journey). The first criminal jeers: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The second criminal rebukes him: “…we indeed have been condemned justly…but this man has done nothing wrong.” He then asks Jesus to remember him in his Kingdom. Jesus replies “…today you will be with me in Paradise.” The second criminal has chosen Jesus’ path.
True repentance extends far beyond resolving a quarrel. It demands a surrender to God—to that larger heart-identity beyond our ego mind. With true repentance, we commit to walking God’s path, the path of love. We will stumble—no doubt many times. Yet following the path of love, we rise to our feet time after time, knowing that the God of love walks with us.
Dear God, I pray to move beyond the boundaries of “mind” and “my” into the expansiveness of your love, so that I may walk your path more deeply each day.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.