Last Sunday, Pastor Lacey preached on the gruesome story of John the Baptist’s beheading. Her sermon called us to consider repentance as an ongoing spiritual exercise to help us address the dysfunction we see in ourselves, families, churches, and communities.

In Mark 6:14-29, Herod didn’t have the strength or will to do the right thing, even though he knew it was wrong to kill John. He felt pressure from those around him and he succumbed to their wickedness. Afterward, he felt immense guilt.

Sometimes we need a gut check. God’s Spirit speaks softly so we have to make time to listen. Repentance is a practice that can help us get honest with ourselves and God. Repentance can help us stay on track and course correct when we have taken a wrong turn.

Theologian, David Lose, offers a short exercise to help us think about repentance. I hope you will consider these questions in your private prayer time this week:

Step 1:

Take some time to daydream what God’s vision for you might be. What do you think God wants for you? Who does God want you to be? What does God want you to do? Dream big!

Step 2:

Choose one element of your personal life of which you would like to repent. Is there an unhealthy relationship you want to repair or address? Can you imagine using your time differently and toward better ends? Is there some practice or habit you might take up that would produce more abundant life for you?

Step 3:

Identify one element of our communal lives that needs repentance. How can you contribute to that? Can you spend time volunteering at a local charitable agency? Or make an additional donation? Or start doing some work on an issue that’s important to you? Can you get to know someone who is quite different from you – ethnically or politically or generationally – and try to build a more robust community in this way? Can you identify one communal issue and begin praying for it daily, open to how God might direct your time and actions to contribute to change?

God doesn’t want our perfection rather God wants our honesty. Repentance can help us see where we have missed the mark. Seeking forgiveness is a vulnerable process, but we know that practices like these can produce healthier communities and more peaceful approaches to conflict.