I live in Washington, D.C., a city in which mistakes are messaged and shortcomings are spun. True confession and true repentance do not occur -- unless it is politically advantageous. Naturally, cynicism runs rampant.
In this environment, though we all know our own weaknesses, grace is rarely offered for failures.
Which is why Lent is such an important season on the Christian calendar. It is an opportunity to pause and reflect, to examine our hearts, and to acknowledge the ways in which we have fallen short. But we don't confess our failures to a public waiting to crucify us. Instead, we confess our sins to one who loves us and was willing to be crucified in order to reconcile us once and for all.
Lent is rarely talked about as a celebration, but it is an opportunity to revel in the joy of forgiveness.
In the 32nd Psalm, David describes this joy, saying, "Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." Because though we must do the painful work of self-examination, as Christians we do so knowing that in Jesus, we have "a great high priest who has passed through the heavens" (Hebrews 4:14). This high priest is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, interceding for us and offering mercy and grace when we confess our sin
Here at Sojourners, we've come up with several ways to help you in your Lenten observance. On Wednesday, April 16 at 4:45 EST, I'll offer a Lenten reflection called "The Power of the Cross" for BBC Radio. And currently, we're featuring a blog series that explores The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Lust, Gluttony, Wrath, Sloth, Greed, and Envy. Some of our writers reflect on the way they have battled a particular sin and other writers explore the theology behind the sins. But all bravely offer their own public confessions, inviting us to join them in reflection and turning away from those sins and turning toward God instead.
I hope that you'll join us in celebrating the joy forgiveness this Lenten season.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good, is now available. Watch the Story of the Common Good HERE. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.