Rector's Rhetoric - February 2016
Does the world seem to be an angrier place lately? Perhaps it’s the political climate we’re now living in with presidential wannabes sewing the seeds of discontent and mistrust in order to gain some footing in the primaries. Maybe we’re on edge because of continued violence perpetrated by radical elements that keep us aware of the danger that could come when we least expect it. Or could it be nations who shouldn’t have nuclear capabilities, slowly but surely, moving closer and closer to having them? What about the threat of moral corruption, that the culture is debasing what we hold to be sacred, revered, and life-giving? Whatever kind of anger it is, and wherever it’s coming from, it’s powerful and contagious and crippling.
We expend a lot of energy trying to keep our worlds safe and controlled—home security systems, passwords for everything we do online (I even have an app on my phone with a password for my passwords). With every advent of some new technology that promises to make our lives better, there’s someone out there looking for a way to exploit the system and steal something from us. Could it be that the root of all our anger is the fear that what we have will somehow be taken from us—home, family, material possessions, our identity, our physical or mental health, our freedoms, our personal dignity? I recently heard an athlete, who’d gotten into some trouble and realized that his words and actions had been completely inappropriate, confess in the form of an apology that “he hadn’t been raised that way.” That’s a pretty brave statement, because what he was publically confessing was that he had no one to blame but himself, and that the path he’d followed wasn’t the one that had been set down for him. I truly believe that the season of Lent can be an antidote to the fear and anger that poison the lives of otherwise decent, compassionate, generous people. As Christians, fear and anger is not the way we’ve been raised, and the first therapeutic tool for cleansing is a public confession in the form of The Litany of Penitence, which we will say together on Ash Wednesday. That Litany is a listing of the fears that possess us and prevent us from living as Jesus would have us live, and it’s a powerful means for conversion, getting back on the right path and doing away with fear and anger.
Unfortunately, one confession is never a once and for all solution to the problems that afflict us. There’ll be many more confessions to come, and many more Lents to get in touch with the pitfalls of being human. But Lent is just around the corner, and it’s time to begin again.