Who wants a contrite heart?
During the season of Lent in the Christian church we use a special prayer of petition for a contrite heart. But who wants a contrite heart? Before we ask God for this we need to know what the word means.
To be contrite means to be sorry for things we have done that we ought not to have done. The words and thoughts and actions that have offended both God and our neighbour. In our hearts we chew around forgiving and forgiveness like a dog chewing a bone. We must admit it is not an easy thing to do. Forgiveness is not some sweet smelling ideal that can be dispersed like some air freshener sprayed from a can. Forgiveness for us is painfully difficult. And for God too. His forgiveness comes at great cost. The life of his only begotten Son. The truth is, we cannot be forgiven unless we know how to forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” is how we learnt to pray. And we are assured by Jesus in His gospel that if we forgive others our heavenly Father will also forgive us.*
A little boy got into a fight with his brother over some game they were playing. When his brother wanted to make up, the boy refused and would not speak to his brother all day. When bedtime came, the mother said to the boy who was still angry, “Don’t you think you should forgive your brother before you go to sleep? Remember that the Bible says do not let the sun go down on your anger”.* The upset boy had a puzzled look on his face. He thought for a few moments and then blurted out, “But how can I keep the sun from going down?”
Even Christians get angry and hold grudges. They often forget that verse of scripture. We cannot change another person’s mind but we are responsible for our own attitude. We can’t keep the sun from going down but we must learn to forgive. “For every minute you are angry you lose 60 seconds of happiness.”
The greatest lesson about how to forgive is taught at the same place where we see the greatest demonstration of wrongdoing - at the Cross. At the time of His crucifixion, which was the greatest wrongdoing in the world, Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them”.
The Cross is also where we see the greatest demonstration of love. That heartfelt plea on our behalf rings down through two thousand years. Jesus forgave those who crucified him, and it took a lot of love to do that. It was not nails that kept Jesus hanging on the cross, it was love. And that’s another reason why we have so much trouble with forgiving - it’s the lack of love in our heart. The lack of love puts limits on our forgiveness when God has no limit to his forgiveness, so neither should we. We should forgive as many times as it is necessary. “We can stop forgiving others when Christ stops forgiving us.”
Loving and forgiving is what the story of the Cross is all about. Divine and human forgiveness must go hand in hand. In fact, I think that loving and forgiving is the cross that Jesus calls us to bear. It’s so hard to do! But since we are made in God’s image He will produce His kind of love in our heart if we open it up to Him for recreation. So when it come to forgiving, ask yourself just how much do you love the person whom you must forgive, whatever the wrong might be. This is a great spiritual truth that we must understand when we ask God to create and make in us new and contrite hearts. We need to know what it means to be truly sorry for our sins and the season of Lent gives us that opportunity.
Rev Billard The Codroy Valley Winter Carnival runs for a week with the theme “Be Happy, Be Seen.” For more information, contact co-chair Frank Aucoin at 955-3446 or 214-1285. An information session is available to Newfoundland and Labrador residents. Anyone interested in registering for the sessions should call 709-576-0608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The series is for individuals and their families diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Includes sessions on an overview of dementia, coping strategies, community resources and supports. Are you interested in volunteering? Western Health currently has openings. Western Health is looking for volunteers to assist as greeters at Western Memorial Regional Hospital and Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre. Our greeters help welcome visitors and clients and assist them in finding locations throughout the building. For more information about this opportunity, or if you think you can help, please call our Volunteer Resources Department at 709-637-