Monday, February 27, 2012

guilty of dust and sin

1 Lent, Monday

Here are the readings for today: Genesis 37:1-11, Psalm 44, 1 Corinthians 1:1-19, Mark 1:1-13.

These 40 days are a time of self-discipline and reflection, of prayer and fasting. But Lent is also a time of repentance and reconciliation.

The reading from 1 Corinthians struck a chord with me tonight, in particular these verses:

"Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters" (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).

I spoke with a friend recently and asked how they were doing. They said that they were having a difficult time, partly because they had heard that I had been speaking about them behind their back.

You know the old childhood phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"? Well, it's wrong. Words do hurt. And I am guilty of having contributed to the pain of someone I care about. When I think of the pain that I have caused this person and others, I feel awful. Verse 15 from Psalm 44 reads: "All day long my disgrace is before me, * and shame has covered my face." This resonated with me strongly tonight.

"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." But I do know. And yet I still mess up. I still manage to hurt people I care about. Why do I keep doing that? What compels me to contribute to gossip and say mean things about others?

This is not the unity that Paul is urging the people of Corinth to strive for. This is not the way Christ taught us to live. Christ revealed to us the nature of God, which is love. Love of God, love of neighbor, and--only lastly--love of self.

I don't know what else to say except I'm sorry. Sorry for the words I have spoken, the actions I have taken, and the actions I have not taken. Thank you for your honesty and for giving me the chance to repent and make it right again. 

Since today is the feast of George Herbert, here is a poem of his that my rector in Omaha is particularly fond of. It speaks far more eloquently than I could of God's reconciling love.

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
        Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
        From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
        If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
        Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
        I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
        "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
        Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
        "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
        So I did sit and eat.

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