Wednesday of Lent 1, March 13, 2019
“Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures for ever.”
Today we continue to look at this second confession in the Litany of Penitence:
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven. Have mercy on us, Lord.
Recognizing that we are called to love God with our whole being as expressed in our emotions, attitudes, and values, the next part of the confession “We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves” takes on this same wider scope. Our baptismal covenant (BCP, p. 304-5) gives us clarity on what loving our neighbor looks like: “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?”
“All persons”: this includes ourselves, people in our family, people in our worshiping community, people in our diocese, as well as all the other people who are in our lives, even for a moment. When we seek to discern Christ’s presence in ourselves, we begin to love ourselves rightly. By seeking Christ in ourselves, we begin to see how God is transforming us into Christ’s image so that we become the Body of Christ in the world. We need to love ourselves and each other rightly, not by the standards of our society that are pragmatic and consumer based (what do you do?, where do you work?, how much do you make?, where do you live? What kind of car do you drive?, etc), but by how are we expressing the grace given to us at baptism. The prayer over the newly baptized indicates how we are to look at each other and ourselves. As we pray this prayer today, listen for how God calling us to be more attentive to how we and our neighbors are being given the baptismal grace.
How might looking for these baptismal graces in ourselves and each other help us to love ourselves and each other better?
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
--BCP, p. 308