Re:Lent — Repent

Wednesday March 6, 2019 was known as “Ash Wednesday.” It is the official beginning of the season of Lent (from the word meaning “spring”) which is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (not counting Sundays). Lent is a season during which Jesus’ people recognize their mortality, their need for God’s grace and mercy, and prepare themselves to fully embrace Jesus’ gift — his own life for our sake (1 Peter 2:21-24). Since that time, Christians have been able to look back in the assuring knowledge that the cross would not have the final say, but sin and death themselves were defeated, and Christ’s victory was sealed in Jesus’ resurrection, which inaugurates God’s new creation and the inbreaking Kingdom of God.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This Lent, UPPC will engage in a teaching series called “Re:Lent,” a chance to contemplate the process and meaning of repentance. The word “repent” essentially means a change of disposition. Some might say a “change of heart” or “change of mind,” but more holistically it means both…and more.

When Jesus first called his disciples, they were in the middle of working their trade — fishing. This was likely a trade they had been handed down not only for generations, but even for centuries. But when Jesus called them to follow him, they “left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:9-20).

What a powerful image for us to recall today, when Jesus calls us to follow him. It is a call, in essence, to change. And hey, everybody loves change, right? Wrong. Change is hard, everyone knows that. But change is what it takes to experience abundant life in Christ. What needs to change?

There are three myths that we tend to believe, and ways we can “repent” or “change our dispositions” toward them.
Myth 1) “You are in control of your life.” Yeeeah, no. Sure, you might get to choose what kind of breakfast cereal to buy. But look a little deeper. All it takes in the Seattle area is a dusting of snow for the whole Puget Sound to panic, realizing how little control we really have over, well, anything.
Repent with Surrender. When the Israelites had to survive only on God’s daily gift of manna, they learned how to surrender control and trust God completely. While we are called to be responsible and wise, when it comes to ultimate control, give it to the only One who has it.
Myth 2) “Your life is all about you.” This one is sneaky. Who else is my life about?! But anyone who has felt the joy of blessing someone else knows there’s a lot more to life than living it for oneself.
Repent with Service. Jesus said it, and it proves to be true generation after generation: anyone who loses their life for Jesus’ sake will save it (Luke 9:24).
Myth 3) You’ll live forever. Okay, no one really believes that, but we often live like we do, right? But while no one likes to dwell on it, the truth is that mortal death will come to us all.
Repent with Resurrection. Actively remember Jesus’ resurrection and promise that one day all who have given him their lives will live eternally in God’s new creation. And live like you believe it, that is, turn away from all that leads to death and turn toward God, who alone gives life. Repent.

For reflection:
1) When you think of the word “repent,” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
2) Which of the three “myths” is the trickiest for you?
3) Jesus is calling you to follow him — what “nets” do you need to leave behind?

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