Lent: Day Eighteen

They plowed our street overnight. There wasn’t much left on the road surface this morning and by lunchtime the sun had melted what was left and the road surface was clear. And just as I imagined yesterday, the backyard was covered with a fresh white coating, giving everything a pristine look.

That didn’t last long as my dogs had their necessary romps outside. Now the once smooth white blanket is pockmarked with hundreds of paw prints. It was beautiful while it lasted, but that kind of untouched landscape is always a temporary thing. Real life eventually intrudes and leaves the marks of its passing.

It is the same with our spiritual lives. We get down on our knees and examine our lives, earnestly rooting out sin to confess and repent of. For now, for Lent, to assist me in that process I have been using the General Confession in the 1928 Episcopal Prayer Book.

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which ought to have done; And we have done those things we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life. To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

We confess and repent and then by the grace of God in Christ Jesus get up from our knees clean and pristine, like my backyard after the newly fallen snow. It feels so good. But then real life intrudes and soon the pockmarks of sin appear over the once-clear landscape and we have to begin the process all over again. Thankfully, our God is compassionate, merciful, and willing to forgive us again and again and again.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Tonight, as I look back on my self-examination and the subsequent recitation of the General Confession, I have in my mind an image of my soul looking like that newly fallen snow in my back yard, once again pristine and white. I also know what is inevitable. But right now, by the grace of God, I rejoice in being clean and I pray that I will be able to keep it unsoiled and pure a bit longer this time around.

Grace and peace be to your day.