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From The Chaplain's Desk
From The Chaplain's Desk: Repentance

By Charles Dimmick, CT State Grange Chaplain

  March 7, 2018 --

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13 

Time and again in the Bible we are told to repent and turn back to the Lord. The words “repent” and “repented” occur more than 100 times in the King James Version of the Bible. In many other passages the concept of repentance is given, using different words, as in the passage from Joel at the beginning of this column. If repentance is too awkward a word to use in our everyday conversation, one could as easily say “being sorry”, for that in essence is what repentance is.

Just as we as parents teach our children to say they are sorry when they do something they shouldn’t do, or forget to do something they were supposed to do (like put their dirty clothes in the hamper or feed the dog), so also God wants us to say we are sorry for our own sins. Further, it is important that we not only say we are sorry but also mean it.

The Episcopal service of daily Morning Prayer starts with a confession of sin and pledge of repentance. In part it reads “we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.” Similar confessions of sin and asking for God’s merciful forgiveness exist in all three of the Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

In the first letter of John we read: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

We all sin; we can’t help it. But God, in His great mercy, is willing to forgive us time after time if only we will confess our sins, say from our hearts that we are sorry for what we have done or neglected to do, and sincerely try to do better. Praise Be to God.



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