Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 21, 2015
Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.
Repentance is the word for today. Repent! Reminds me of seeing stern, dour-faced street preachers with bullhorns, standing on street corners, crying, “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
But, that’s not quite what our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, had in mind for today. Actually, it’s not precisely what I think Jesus had in mind, either, in the verses that accompany this short chapter in the book The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray: Mark 1:14-15. Moreover, this is from the passage I am considering and praying over, from which I will deliver a sermon on Sunday.
Yes, the Hebrew word “repent” (or, shuv) means to turn around, or make a 180-degree turn. It’s like I am going the wrong direction, so I make a u-turn. Go the right direction, instead. And Mark was Jewish; so was Peter, his friend and mentor, and presumably the source for most of the material in Mark.
Except, the Gospel of Mark was written in Greek. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia. This word has a slightly different focus, or vector. Yes, the simple definition is “change one’s mind.” However, when expanded, this word can also mean changing one’s behavior, reorienting to new insights and understandings, framing new objectives and making new goals.
I am greatly relieved to hear this! This means that I do not need to grovel and crawl in the dust. Like a worm. (From somewhere back in my memory, a long time ago, I am remembering a state called by some pastor “Christian Worm-ism.” Pretty descriptive, if you ask me!)
So, I am reorienting myself, from the inside out. What a positive thing this can be! Not negative, laden with guilt and shame. (Especially shame! We have recently talked about both of these, yesterday and the day before.)
Reminder to self: God does not want to make me feel small or insignificant or guilty or especially shame-filled. No! But I know who does—sin, the devil, or Satan, or evil tendencies or wicked spirits. Whatever or however you may want to describe those negative feelings and emotions and urges that are not of God. Instead, we can be positive, and look forward to new opportunities.
Yes, we are angry and sad that we messed up. Yes, we can feel hesitant, even shy of going forward in life. But we can have confidence that—with God’s help and support—we will go forward with God at our sides.
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