There’s a word that shows up in this Gospel lesson appointed for today; the word shows up continually in the Scriptures and in the vocabulary of the church: repent. Repentance is both better and worse than you might imagine. The English word translated as “repentance” is the Greek word “metanoia”: a preposition “meta (after) and “noia” (to think or observe). “Metanoia” – repentance – is something we conclude in hindsight where we realize we had it wrong: something we have done or left undone, said or left unsaid that was wrong. Maybe a conclusion or a judgment call about something or someone which we now see wasn’t right. It may be a whole pattern of actions, brazenly in the open or in the secrecy of darkness that may have snowballed out of control, and it’s wrong. It’s got to stop; we can see it, sadly. And so that’s the other piece about repentance. Repentance isn’t just wisdom gleaned from experience; repentance is regret gleaned from sorrow. We cannot go on, we simply cannot live with ourselves that way any longer. Repentance is hindsight teeming with regret, enough so to fuel a change in life. Repentance is both better and worse than you might imagine.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Verse 11 of Psalm 51, one of the great penitential Psalms of the Bible. The immediate concern of the Psalmist is being cleansed of sin. But the idea of a “clean heart” and “renewed spirit” has a wider resonance.
Jonah 3:1-4:11/Psalm 67/Luke 11:29-32
We continue this evening with “Seers and Sages: Preaching the Prophets.” For this second installment I will be presumptuous and try a little prophecy of my own. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have the Times and the Globe and The Economist and online news sources. And the Bible: I’d like to do this with specific reference to Jonah–a minor prophet with a major message.