We had a number of Ash Wednesday services yesterday: that solemn and beautiful liturgy that begins the Season of Lent. Some people commented to me yesterday, similar to comments I have received over the years, that they don't feel particularly "sinful" and are a bit confused by the abject nature and tone of the service and the Lenten season.
Our Outline of the Faith in the BCP (a/k/a the Catechism) defines sin as: sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all of creation. (BCP page 848). A somewhat helpful definition, but for those looking for concrete, solid walls within which to live their lives, perhaps not as direct as they might expect. I harken back to Jesus and the individual who thought by living thoroughly by the "law", eternal life was a given. Jesus asked more, to sell everything and give it to the poor and then follow him.
Part of sin is complacency. Thinking we have done enough, given enough. God wants all of our efforts directed to the building of this kingdom opened for everyone by Jesus. An impossible expectation, perhaps.... And that is why we need Lent. We need to remember that no matter how much we do, there is always more to do, always more required. Not because we are sinful, but because we are perfectible.
All of us are sinners. And God knows that and loves us anyway. That helps me breathe easier. I hope it does you too. A holy and blessed Lent.
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Stations 1-4, jfd+, 2012