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Posted: February 14, 2013 10:52 p.m.

Reflect, repent, revive for change

Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!
Matthew 3:2
(Common English Bible)

My geometry teacher in high school had a simple message to us as students: “Be sure your sins will find you out.” Mrs. Quick was a kind and gentle Godly Presbyterian woman who took her teaching very seriously. She wanted us to learn all that we could so that we would be prepared to enter college with learned minds and sharp intellects. So when anyone did not do his or her work or Mrs. Quick had reason to doubt that any of us had done our best, she would begin her “You can do better than that” speech with “Be sure your sins will find you out,” meaning of course that she had discovered our lack of educational fortitude.

Over the years, I have come to remember that saying more than anything else from any other high school teacher — with maybe one exception of Mrs. Bailey, my high school English teacher who made us memorize the Prologue to Canterbury Tales and Mrs. Peacock, who made us memorize the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But the one that rises to the top on many occasions is “Be sure your sins will find you out.” I wonder if Mrs. Quick knew she would have a lasting impression on us? I wonder if she knew that one day, we would look into the faces of our guilt-ridden children and say those very words to them?

John came with a very unconventional message for his day, a similar message. He told people to repent and be baptized. Why? Because the Kingdom of Heaven was approaching and Jesus was stepping onto the scene. As John looked around, I am sure that he saw some of the same things we see today: rampant unconcern for fellow human beings, concern mainly for material wealth and gain, and amnesia to the ways of the Lord. Many people had forgotten God — they had forgotten to really stop and spend time with God as they reflected on their past. They had forgotten to change their ways. They were still expecting the Messiah, but many had just simply forgotten that Messiah would come.

And then John shows up on the scene, looking rather “odd” in his camel’s hair clothing and his long hippie hair, shouting like a madman: “Repent!” This was John’s message from the time he steps onto the scene as an adult until the day he dies in Herod’s court.

The season of Lent, the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, is a time for us to reflect on the things we have done wrong, to repent of them and change our ways, and to revive, to let God restore new life in us. As we enter into this season of reflection and repentance, we remember the ways we have “gotten it wrong” — the things we have done that we ought not to have done, and the things that we did not do that we should have done. It’s a time for us to give up bad habits, straighten up bad attitudes, and hone up our spiritual as well as our physical health. Lent is a time to ask God with a straight face and an open heart to change us from the inside — to make us into the beautiful people inside that God intends for us to be.

Change can be hard. It’s not easy to turn around and go back the other way because on the way, we have to face our wrongs, ourselves and all those we have hurt, but with the help and strength that God gives us, we can repent — we can turn around. Repentance literally means to turn around and go the opposite direction. So if you have been walking away from God, repent! If you have been doing things that you know are wrong, repent! Turn around and do the opposite — go toward God by reading God’s word, praying and fasting as you are able, and by worshiping God in communion with others. Stop doing the things you know to be wrong, and make a positive change in your life. Repenting also means allowing God to do in you what you cannot do on your own. Ask God to change you inside so that you can begin living right on the outside.

And then revive. It’s time to get some good spiritual food. Attend your favorite place of worship on Sundays or whenever they meet. If you are looking for a church home or if Sunday mornings are not a time when you can worship, attend REVIVE @ 5 at Covington First UMC. Find a church home where you can worship and attend regularly so that you can begin to get it right.

Where do you need God’s help in changing your life today?

Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at jan.mccoy@ngumc.net or at covingtonfirst.org.

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