Over the centuries, Advent has been a time of expectant repentance—part of our preparation for Christ to come into our lives. Today’s blog continues that theme, this time focused on my sometimes unwillingness to take responsibility.
One part of being sinful is not doing what needs to get done. “Sins of omission” is the doctrinal term. In the Confession of Sins at the start of worship, this matter is phrased this way, “What (I) have left undone.”
Somehow connected with irresponsibility, laziness or procrastination, leaving something undone means that what’s good, righteous, necessary or helpful has not taken place. My perhaps-invisible inaction allows or encourages not-so-good things to happen. Not-so-good people to win out. Not-so-good attitudes to prevail. Because I have left undone what could have helped God’s will to triumph, I have sinned.
Right now, one of those sins is a grudging semi-acceptance of my responsibility to help bring this country back together. I know some of what that means: Reaching out, in love and acceptance, to people whose mindsets seem beyond redemption. People prone to anger and hate, easily fooled into behaviors and thoughts that harm themselves and others. People who seem irrational and unloving.
I can excuse my non-behavior—I don’t personally encounter folks like this very often; angry people can be fearsome bullies; my reasonableness is not going to change anything inside them and I don’t really know what to do or say. It’s a whole lot easier to let them fume and poison themselves with their destructive emotions. To give up on any notion that their lives could be rescued by something I might do or say.
None of these thoughts provides cover for my leaving undone what needs to happen in this situation: Helping people addicted to anger to escape the patterns of those destructive thoughts and actions. Helping them extricate themselves from semi-spiritual political or personality cults.
*And so I repent….
*Space does not permit further descriptions here of how I am starting to take responsibility for the tasks I have outlined. I am not content with mere repentance! More needs to happen. You may read about some of these actions in future blogs….