February 16, 2010

A Confident Collect

The prophet Joel may not know if God will relent from his anger, but we certainly do. Or at least the Collect for Ash Wednesday makes us think so.

If I remember correctly from my seminary days, a collect has three parts: 1) the address, 2) the petitions, and 3) the praise. The address for Ash Wednesday is ripe with the confidence necessary on a day spent pondering a) our own sinfulness and b) our own mortality.

"Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent..."

That is a serious statement about the God we follow. This God is first and foremost about the love and forgiveness of as much as possible. Even the messiest, ugliest, most screwed up person on this planet, God does not hate. Even the 11th hour deathbed convert is forgiven. Despite what others might tell us, groups with signs picketing soldier's funerals or yelling over a loudspeaker at the Indy500, tomorrow, we will confess with confidence that God hates nothing he has made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent.

This is the good news of Ash Wednesday.

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