Archive for February 21st, 2023

Humility and Repentance


Written by Richard J. Foster, a contemporary theologian, speaker, and author in the Quaker tradition. This is an excerpt from his book “Learning Humility.”

Tomorrow is the beginning of that season in the Christian calendar known as Lent…the forty days of preparation for the central event of our faith—the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. I’ve tended to have a rather dim view of the contemporary practices surrounding Lent. Often these practices are embarrassingly trivial…perhaps fasting from coffee or chocolate or other equally trite things. And for me the liturgical traditions that have grown up around Lent seem to be little more than efforts at “organized gloom,” with no genuine rationale for the gloom. I’m often sorely tempted to tell earnest folk that for Lent I plan to fast from prayer. (And I confess that now and again I have yielded to this temptation.) However, this season I am drawn to a particular practice found in the Eastern Orthodox Church, a practice that seeks to nurture an interior posture of “humility and repentance” for the Lenten season. (It was the characterization of humility and repentance that caught my attention.) Three weeks before Lent begins the Eastern Church observes “the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.” This, of course, is drawn from Jesus’ well-known parable recorded in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 18:9-14). Luke observes that this parable is specifically directed to those “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt” (v 9). Wow, is this ever an indictment of today’s modern state of affairs…trusting in ourselves that we are righteous and regarding others with contempt. This is the very spirit that saturates the internet and floods talk radio and blogs without number. In the parable the “prayer” of the Pharisee is far less a prayer than a self-righteous rant: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income” (v 11-12). Then the contrast of the publican (a tax collector) could not be more striking. He stands far off, keeps his head down, beats his chest, and cries out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (v 13). If we are searching for a model of profound humility this is it. This Lenten emphasis on “humility and repentance” keying off of Jesus’ parable of the publican and the Pharisee feels worth exploring. So, I will give some thought to a fitting subject for a Lenten experience of humility and repentance.


Written by Billy Graham (1918-2018) American Christian evangelist.

Our Father and Our God, we praise you for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in your holy name. Amen.

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