Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday in Lent 2

Romans 1:28--2:11
v. 2:4b Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Episcopalians tend not to be very fond of the word "repentance." It conjures up someone screaming, "Repent!" at us while threatening us with the full force of God's wrath. I've been in those situations before (more times than I care to remember) and it's not only uncomfortable it can be downright frightening.

But here Paul is saying that it is not the threat of God's wrath that should lead to our repentance, but God's kindness.

The Greek word that gets translated "repent" is a marvelous word: metanoia. It means literally to turn around or to change one's mind. It seems only reasonable that we should be more prone to turn toward a God who woos us with kindness rather than threatens us with punishment.

Not that human sin doesn't cause God's wrath. It does, Paul says, but it's equal opportunity wrath--no one escapes it, even those who think they have. As Paul says at the end of today's reading "God shows no partiality."

The good news is that God has given up wrath and replaced it with faith, faith in God's kindness. And if we get caught up in this kindness we will leave our own wrath (our need to judge) behind as well.

To repent is simply to have faith in God's mercy, God's kindness. That we can do it and it is enough for the Holy One is the miracle of the good news.

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