(Paul said) "Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” ~ Acts 17:29-32
Two themes should be familiar to Christians at this point in our history, and both of them, I've noticed, are themes that we maybe aren't really all that comfortable talking about much - despite their pervasiveness.
Repentance and Resurrection of the dead.
First, today, a little bit about repentance. It's an uncomfortable topic that truly goes against almost everything our public and national discourse tells us. How often do the words "I repent" come out of our mouths? Perhaps in worship we dare to say them before God. But even then, not perhaps often. And what about other times?
Repentance here, and in other places in the New Testament, is from the Greek word "metanoia," which literally means a "change of mind" or a literal "turning around" to face a new direction.
It isn't about shame. It isn't about feeling guilty even. It is about starting over. Beginning again. Changing course.
In church we have a time during worship where we ask for forgiveness. That is certainly a part of what Paul is talking about here.
But repentance goes beyond this. It is literally beginning again in a completely new way. It is leaving the old behind and being new.
It isn't something we Western Christians - or we Americans in particular - show much public comfort with. You can probably look in the paper at any news story - particularly one involving politics - and see many opportunities where a change of mind, or change of course or repentance would have been healing balm.
Can you think of a time where you repented in this "metanoia" way? A time where you changed course from one way of thinking or being to another more healthy, healing and holistic way of thinking or being? Was it easy? What was it that prompted you?
And if not, what does repentance mean to you? What might you being called to repent of? Where might you be asked to change your path or how might you be asked to change your mind?
Where do we even begin?
Lord of all nations, create in me a repentant heart and mind so that I may turn to you always. Amen.