Daily Lenten Devotions from Church Street UMC
Thursday, February 18
By Rev. Tim Best
Read Daniel 9:1-14
Confession is good for the soul, but it is not easy. The human ability to resist confession is nearly instinctual. Confession is a vulnerable act wherein we name our shortcomings, our needs, and the temptations that endanger our wellbeing. We find ourselves in another season of lent, a season marked from beginning to end with confession and repentance. If we are not careful, Lent can often feel like a burden placed on our shoulders, a season heavy with guilt and finger-wagging shame. I remember the advice I was given when learning to preach: “No matter how difficult the passage, how somber the season, or tragic the event, what we are called to preach is Good News.” Lent is Good News. The passage from Daniel doesn’t place additional shame and suffering onto the people; it names the suffering and offers a way forward.
Lent is a pressure release valve for lives that get disconnected from God and one another. I think of dryer vents. Dryer vents can easily be clogged by lint buildup. Such buildup doesn’t happen at once, it takes time and builds little by little. The danger comes when so much buildup has occurred that the warm air doesn’t vent. Such blockage will easily lead to a fire. Confession is the practice of cleaning out the dirt and blockage in our lives. It is a gift that God empowers us through the Spirit to participate in the work of renewing and restoring our lives and the world. My daily prayer for our congregation this Lent will be that God will continue to guide us to see where we have erred and sinned, and to empower us to change.
Lent, and for that matter confession, are not ends in themselves. Easter, resurrection, and new life in Christ is the end. Easter is not a refusal to accept death, but rather a full acknowledgment of the power of death and a celebration that it is conquered in Christ. Daniel’s words speak to me of the powers at work, then and now, to overwhelm us with death. I confess my participation with those powers, the ways that they sometimes seem to benefit me, just as they do harm to myself and all around me. Daniel also contains good news. God’s ultimate desire is for us to live and flourish, not to suffer and die. Let us confess so that what hinders our joyful obedience to God might be removed and we might fully delight in renewing relationship with God and neighbor.
Almighty God, you poured out your Spirit upon Daniel that he might proclaim hope to your people. Fill us with hope in this season of Lent that we might be renewed in our love and service to you. Let us confess our sins with hope that you hear us and with confidence that by your help we may overcome them. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.