Luke 15:8-10 (NRSV)
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Jim and I were on a mission trip with our youth group. He was sharing a lesson about repentance, but when he said the word, “repent” the youth laughed. His southern drawl made the word sound like “repaint” to our Toledo teens. After that, they would occasionally ask him to say it again- just for laughs. We are not sure whether they remember any lessons from that day, but we know they will never forget the word! “Repaint!”
To repent is to regret and be sorry for our sinful actions. Repenting also means turning from our sin and living in more perfect obedience to God. Perhaps repenting IS a lot like repainting. Like paint that fades over time, our enthusiastic faith may wane into lackluster living. Our sinful nature blisters with anger or impatience in the heat of the moment, much like paint bubbles up in the hot sun. Life’s challenges, like the weather on a painted wall, gradually strip away our “perfect” outer façade- and we don’t like what we see exposed underneath. And so we know it’s time to “repaint.”
We examine ourselves to uncover all of our flaws and imperfections. As we find all of the flakes and debris of our sinfulness, we ask God to wash us, cleansing us from our unrighteousness. We cover ourselves in God’s mercy and grace. God restores us and brings us again to newness. We are made beautiful in God’s love. But soon it’s time to “repaint” again, isn’t it?
With God there is always good news. Our desire to even acknowledge our sins and repent of them is God-given. Our desire to be better people and refrain from sinning is also a gift from God. God knows that our faith growth is a lifetime process. Martin Luther’s first thesis reads, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.” We can turn from our sin with the freedom and trust that we are forgiven, as God showed us through Jesus. Every time. We are freshly restored and made new, able to begin again.
Spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere. Is it time to repaint? In what way would you like to be made new?
Our symbol for today is a paint brush. May the paint brush remind us of the gifts we have in repentance and forgiveness, restoration and renewal. Today let’s take a moment to consider ways we would like to turn from sin, and to turn to the God who lovingly makes us new.
With humble gratitude I thank you for it all- the awareness of my sinful nature, the desire to repent, the assurance of your loving mercy and forgiveness, and the restoration and renewal you offer me every time. Open me to be more fully aware of my unworthiness. Open me to be more fully aware of your generous, merciful love that comes to me in spite of my worth. Thank you. Amen.