I was taking the service in our local rest home the other day, and as I spoke the words of the Confession, it struck me, as it had before, that it was a bit odd to urge these frail elderly folk to turn from their sins. After all, I didn’t think any of them had been out robbing banks, or murdering people. They were all too old to commit these sorts of sins. But after reading the Gospel from Mark 1 about John the Baptist, I saw repentance in a different way, and spoke to our people about what it can mean for them. Repentance means turning away. Turning away from the past, from hurts, from regrets, from things that hold us back from floating in God’s presence and His love. That’s what my elderly friends needed to hear – they weren’t being accused of being badly behaved, just invited in the confession time to let God shine the light into their hearts, into their consciences, and deal with the old hurts.
And do you know what was so gratifying after bringing this short message to the elderly people – they all seemed to be more at ease, more peaceful, after the service.
May you too embrace the message of repentance, not seeing it as a stick to beat you up, but rather a chance to place all the niggles and annoyances at the cross.