Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Thump (05/30/13)
TITLE: Oops, Sorry, Grace
By Carolyn Ancell
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One obvious message is: choose our product. It is an ad that makes us smile. But there are subtle messages we might fall for as well: "You have made a bad choice ... You should be filled with regret at the least, perhaps shame ... Maybe you are an irresponsible or bad person?" That playful thump on the forehead begins to look and feel more like an ancient striking the breast in a repentant mea culpa.
We all make bad choices from time to time. Do we ask for (and accept) forgiveness, and then move on in thanksgiving? Or do we get stuck in regret and shame, thumping ourselves on head and heart in a round of, "I shouldn't have, I should have, I could have, I'm terrible ..."?
We are not perfect. We will never be perfect in any worldly way. Yet still we are loved and invited into relationship with Jesus and the Christian community. I will always remember a priest I worked with telling me that a woman once sought comfort from him, sorrowing in her self-imposed fast from Communion on Sundays because she did not deem herself to be worthy. His comforting response? "You're right. You're not worthy." After registering her shock at his words, he laughed, and kindly explained. "Not one of us is worthy; yet we are all invited. Not one of us is good enough or perfect enough to satisfy himself or herself. But satisfying ourselves with our own worthiness is to miss the point. The Lord asks only that we do our best, admit our mistakes, accept his forgiveness, and walk with him in faith and in love."
The writer Anne Lamott recently wrote a book entitled Help! Thanks! Wow!, in which she suggests that these three words are excellent prayers for the spiritual walk. Help: I'm in trouble, I've messed up. Thanks: for your wisdom, forgiveness, invitation, and healing. Wow: how awesome are your gifts of life and faith, forgiveness, love and grace.
Next time we mess up, or make a mistake or bad choice, let's go ahead and thump ourselves on the forehead with the recognition that we could have done things differently. Let's turn to the Lord with a good repentant thump of mea culpa. But let us not get ensnared in disappointment with ourselves and our imperfections. Rather, may we hear the Lord's Word of forgiveness and welcome in prayer and Scripture. May we hear his Word in our minds and in our hearts, and know that he is always reaching out to those who have fallen short, who have missed the mark, us!
Oops ... Thump.
Sorry ... Thump.
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