“Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
maker of all things, judge of all people:
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
we from time to time most grievously have committed,
by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine majesty.
We do earnestly repent,
and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;
the remembrance of them is grievous unto us.
Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may ever hereafter
serve thee in newness of life,
to the honor and glory of thy name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Those of us of a certain age will remember the prayer of confession in the old communion liturgy found in the 1968 Methodist Hymnal. I grew up with that hymnal, that liturgy and that prayer. (Actually it was written by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer for his adaptation of the mass in his Book of Common Prayer during the reign of Elizabeth I, but I digress…) It is a good prayer. And I always think of it as we enter our season of Lent.
Lent is a season of forty days (not counting Sundays which are considered “little Easters”) starting on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. Lent (from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, meaning “spring”) is a penitential season but it is also more than a penitential season. It is also a season of preparation, of preparing to celebrate Easter. It is penitential in that we all need to have a time to reflect on what we done wrong, either by what we have done or by what we have failed to do. We need examination, confession, and repentance. But repentance is an action verb. It doesn’t just mean regret; it also means change. We prepare by asking ourselves how to live better, how to live more fully, how to live more faithfully. Hence, Lent has both negative (what are you giving up this year?) but also positive (what will you do this year?) aspects. Lent has never been my favorite time of year, but it is arguably my most important time of year. How about you?
I wish for you a holy Lent.