Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, March 21

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
—1 John 1:8

We are now a couple of weeks into the season of Lent, a good time to reflect on how we’re doing with any Lenten “resolutions” we might have made. If you’re like me, you have about as much success with Lenten resolutions as with New Year’s Resolutions: I do fine for a few weeks and then slack off. So now is a good time to take stock.

This year, I have not heard a single sermon about “giving up something” for Lent, and I have not read one article about that subject in the religious journals I subscribe to. Perhaps there is a new way to live out this penitential season, one that is ultimately more helpful in getting us back into right relationship with God, which is what I believe this season is all about. Lent is not supposed to be death-dealing, but life-giving.

In the “old days” when people talked about what they gave up for Lent, there seemed to be almost a competitive edge to it. “I never drink alcohol during Lent,” or “No chocolate in the house until Easter Day” were commonplace statements. I don’t hear that sort of thing much anymore. Instead, I hear sermons and read articles about reflection, introspection, and repentance.

Recently, I heard the remarkable writer/preacher/theologian Marcus Borg say that the central focus of Lent is the journey with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, which was both the historical route Jesus took and is also, metaphorically, our journey. Our Lenten journeys can be modeled to parallel Jesus’ if we take seriously the call to think deeply about the realities of how we are living (reflection), ask ourselves honestly how we need to change (introspection), and, finally, repent, which Borg defines as “to go beyond the mind that you have.”

Reflection, introspection, and repentance…three good measuring sticks for this part of our Lenten journeys. As John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” But there is good news; as the Benedictines say, “always we begin again.” And always we have Jesus as our companion and guide.

Thank you, dear God, for the gift of Jesus, who came to lead us from death to new life. Help us to reflect honestly on our shortcomings and sins, and give us courage and wisdom to change. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.