We all–all!–make mistakes. We all have old wounds and childhood patterns of thinking and feeling that lurk in our adult shadows and make us act in ways that are less than ideal. We slip into negativity, we judge, we worry, we despair, we fear, we feel revulsion, and we cannot expect to act like Christ in those moments. This is human nature.
We may have no choice but to stray, but we do have the choice of how we respond once we catch ourselves off of Christ’s Way. For starters, we need to choose to have compassion on ourselves and others for it, and offer endless forgiveness.
We also need to choose where we go from that moment of falling. Several of us are reading a book this Lent by the master teacher of Centering Prayer, Thomas Keating. He once was leading a group through this style of meditation for the first time in which you try to let go of your thoughts and feelings and allow yourself to rest into God’s presence deep within you. Afterward a woman said, “Oh, that was awful. I had ten thousand thoughts.” And Keating responded, “How wonderful! Ten thousand opportunities to turn to God!”
We can choose to see all our flaws, failings and foibles that way–as opportunities to turn back to God. This Sunday we will reflect more on metanoia, the Greek New Testament term that is central to Christ’s spirituality that is often (poorly) translated as repent. We will also consider the concept that Rumi taught, echoing Christ, of our need to die before we die–meaning the death of our old self to be transformed and reborn at a deeper spiritual state, closer to God.
We will read some scripture passages that give people difficulties and consider how they are at heart about turning to the light and love of God over and over to save our lives and restore us to the sacred way. We will read the strange story of the snakes attacking the whining children of Israel in the wilderness and Moses working out a way to save their lives with God (Numbers 21:4-9). We will read Psalm 107 and John 3:14-21 that both refer to that story.
The congregation will sing three old favorites: Amazing Grace; Be Thou My Vision; and, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go. The choir will sing a beautiful “Kyrie” by U. Sisask, conducted by Annemieke McLane, as well as pieces by J.S. Bach and Iona’s John Bell. Annemieke will play piano pieces by J.S. Bach and F.J. Haydn, as well as the spiritual Deep River.
Here is a performance of Haydn’s beautiful and meditative The Seven Last Words of Christ. Annemieke has been playing movements from it as the Postlude this Lent and will play another this Sunday. It offers a fitting soundtrack for our journey as we draw near to Holy Week.