Tag Archives: confession

Leviticus 22-23; Mark 1:1-22

I find it fascinating to read about the Jewish holidays as set out in Leviticus, particularly, Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). This is considered by Israel even today as the High Holy Day of the year.  How the Jews celebrate this day of fasting and prayer is significant in my own understanding of repentance.

Repentance from the Greek word metanioia is a compound for meta meaning ‘after’ suggesting change and nous meaning ‘mind.’ The word also implies remorse for each sin, a desire to turn away from one’s sin, and a hope to God for salvation. On the Day of Atonement, it is necessary to afflict the soul to encourage repentance, and this is done by making the body uncomfortable through fasting. The Jew is also prohibited from wearing leather shoes, washing and bathing, using perfumes and lotions, and having marital relations. It seems to me that the effect would be similar to that of being a homeless person.

I once experienced a missionary challenge to find out what homelessness might be like – not knowing how to find transportation to a destination, not knowing anyone to ask, having only $2 in my pocket to feed me and another person, and having no cell phone to call for help. The purpose of the experience was to feel pain to understand how others feel when they are in pain. How better to prepare oneself to focus on giving charity and asking others for forgiveness?

Repentance is also privately and publically confessing sin. At the beginning of Yom Kippur, the congregation repeats three times, “May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” If sin can be kept secret, confessed only to God in silent prayer, then why would we make amends? Confessing one to another, as is commanded in Scripture, (James 5:16) holds us accountable to those whom we offend with our sins (and don’t we offend others, no matter what our sin?), and God knows I need accountability.

Yet beyond confession and making amends, in the Book of Mark, Jesus Christ calls all to “ believe in the gospel”(Mark 1:15).  Another interesting tradition on Yom Kippur is that the congregation actually sings words describing sin to a tune, representing the joy of being cleansed from one’s sins. This is foreign to me because I find myself mournful and despicable as I recite my sins to God.  Yet being joyful should be the result of believing in the gospel.

The gospel is the good news of “peace (restoration of relationship with God – Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23 ), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him – Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).”  [Excerpt from “The Gospel of Mark: a commentary & meditation,” by Don Schwager, 2010].”

So for me, every day is the Day of Atonement, and it should always end with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Janet

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Filed under 66 Books, Leviticus, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament

Genesis 27, 28; Matthew 18: 21-35; Romans 7:15-25

Just the other day, I heard a conversation at work about siblings.  One woman said that she and her sister had spent the weekend insulating a “d— dog house” for her aging parents, and described the hilarity of the situation and how well they got along.  Another woman described her sister as “crazy” for calling and trying to establish a relationship after 20 years of silence.  Their mother had recently passed away and this sister sought solace in the family ties that bind.  Then both of my coworkers turned to me and asked if I got along with my sister.  A quick rundown of each family name (I have three sisters and two brothers) left me tripping over a few hurdles.   I can immediately think of incidents that caused friction and even long periods of silence between us.  Even worse, I remember my vicious attempts to get my mother involved in my self-righteous, indignant logic – hoping to manipulate her into making my sibling see the light, or more likely, hoping to convince her that I am the ‘good daughter.’

 How dark is my own eye.

        Esau saw red when he learned of Jacob’s treachery.  He even wanted to kill his brother.  Fury and calculated revenge replaced the great disappointing loss he felt.  How does one begin to forgive in the midst of such thoughts? Time and lack of opportunity may save his brother from his wrath, but what of Esau’s soul sickness?  That’s what I feel in my unforgiving.

 A sickness of soul without hope of rescue.

      I wish I could say that I’ve learned to forgive, keep short accounts, and humble myself for the sake of others, but even remembering these past incidents with siblings feels like poking around in the fire, looking for a reason to stoke it back to life.  So even though I know to forgive, there is strong evidence of what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 7, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells, for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

 Confession: “Deliver me from this body of death.”

      That dark Hulk inside me who threatens, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” must learn to surrender these hurts and injustices to God in order to cease from maiming and disabling the ones that I love. I know my family will be grateful to be spared my emotional whirlwind, and may even agree with me in saying,

 “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Genesis, Matthew, Romans