In a time that seems to be defined by negative extremes, I want to suggest a much more positive extreme: extreme forgiveness. The Litany of Penitence which is part of the Episcopal Ash Wednesday proper liturgy is an opportunity to seek God’s extreme forgiveness for all the wrongs we have done or in which we have been complicit.
Jesus’s holy prayer includes the words forgive my trespasses, even those we know nothing about. I have done nothing to oppress any group; however, I do have ancestors from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who may have persecuted so-called witches. I also have southern ancestors who undoubtedly owned slaves or persecuted black slaves. I may not be guilty of these deeds, but inadvertently, I have benefited from them. For these, I pray for forgiveness.
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. My every day and my future are in the hands of God. His spirit is my soul; therefore, I can only do what is pleasing to God. When Jesus was baptized by John, a dove descended bringing good news. When we share the eucharist, we are re-baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, walking in His light.
Our hopes and prayers fall on tired, weary throats; because we see ungodly deeds all around us. This period of Lent reminds us that Jesus brought forth a new vision for our future, one of Grace. We need to share this grace with all people and creatures and living things. It is the way of God.