The Sacrament of Reconciliation
It's easy to be blind to our own sinfulness
Last night at our Deanery Lenten series we talked about the Rite of Reconciliation, which is basically the Episcopal version of confession. Our presenter had us talk in groups about those sins of ours that are so familiar that we forget to notice them or realize a need for reconciliation. The ways in which we consistently put idols before our God: idols of money, success, independence, time. The ways in which we covet – in big and small ways. The ways in which we hurt creation, one another and even ourselves. We laughed at our common missteps, but some of our laughter was sobering as we thought about how deep our sinfulness goes.
Of course, we are not the first of God’s people to struggle with sinfulness. Today, we hear a classic story of the sinfulness of God’s people. Moses goes up the mountain to be with God and receives guidance for God’s people. But the people get impatient and make a gold calf to worship. Even worse, their priest, Aaron, helps them make the idol. The sin is a classic one: God is taking too long, so the people go ahead on their own. How many times have we done the same? Tired of waiting, we force things into motion. We rarely like God’s timing, and we sinfully think we know better than God.
Luckily, the text gives us Moses. Moses has every right to be angry with the people – a people who must have been fickle at best, and downright unappreciative and mutinous at worst - yet Moses stands up to God, petitioning for the people. He cleverly reminds God not only of the example God is setting for outsiders, he reminds God who God is: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Knowing his identity and mission, God acquiesces. Moses shows the people that even God can change God’s mind – can repent; how much more do the people owe it to God to repent also.
Today we prayed, “drive from us all weakness of body, mind and spirit; that being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do.”
This Lent, we come humbly before our God, confess our sins and strive for amendment of life, with the encouragement that we have advocates, God’s mind can be changed and we can be whole. Amen.