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Scriptural Reflection, Mar. 5 & 6, 2016 Print E-mail

Scripture Reflection: Starting Over

Starting Something New

In our lives there are many experiences that give us a special kind of energy...a special boost to see life in a new and somewhat exciting way. One such experience is when we are starting something new. It may be getting married, taking on a new job or moving to another city or town. We are challenged to see ourselves and our world in a new way. New horizons open to us. New knowledge and maturity are offered to us. I am sure that you can identify many such experiences where starting something new gave you a new energy for life.

Starting Over

A very close experience to starting something new is the experience of starting over. This happens when we have been engaged in something important and we fail at it. We may then put it aside for a while and then when we are ready, we take another run at it. Maybe we failed some subject in school and thought we would never get it, but decided to try again and finally succeeded in mastering it. Or maybe we were addicted to something and felt we could never break that addiction but something moved us to start over again and we finally brought that addiction under our control. Or it could be one of a thousand other things. The important factor in starting over is making the decision to do so.

Once we make the decision, then we become committed to carrying out that decision. We tell ourselves that we will do what is necessary to make the desired change in our lives. But before we make that decision we have to have some assurance that what we want is possible. Perhaps we have seen other people start over in the very area that we want to start over, and that inspires us to go ahead. When we do finally make the decision and start over, almost always we experience a new energy for life and begin to see things differently.

Today's Scripture

Today we have been given one of the most beautiful stories of starting over that anyone could imagine. And one of the most hopeful. The younger son had destroyed the life he once knew: the life he had lived with his older brother and father. That life was one of being cared for by a very loving father-a life of security and probably one of great satisfaction. He had thrown it all away to pursue what he thought were greater pleasures; but when the pleasure turned into pain, he finally came to his senses and decided to return to his father. What made his decision possible was the fact that he knew his father. He knew what kind of man he was: loving, forgiving, welcoming. This is what made it possible for him to start over again.

Now is the Time

The time we are in-the Lenten season-is one of those beautiful times when we are given the assurance that no matter what we have done, we can always start over. Let me repeat those words: no matter what we have done, we can always start over. Our God is loving us now-waiting for us, anxious to meet us. Trust me that if you make the decision to start over in your relationship to God, you will experience a new energy for life and begin to see things differently. Our sins twist our vision-they make it impossible to see clearly. They often lead to depression and to a terribly low sense of ourselves.

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness has the power to change all of that. God sees the beauty in each one of us. When you look at someone you really love, what is the first thing you see? Do you first see the imperfections in that person? The bad habits, the mistakes, the addictions? Or do you first see the goodness and beauty that you know so well-the goodness and beauty that is sometimes covered over with pain or anger or disappointment?

If you really love that person, you see the beauty first. That is how God sees us. In our story today, the Father was so overjoyed that the son had returned that he wasn't even interested in listening to the details of his sins. No, he was just so happy that his son had returned that all he wanted to do was hold him, kiss him and help him to see how special he was.

May we all allow God to do that in our lives. It is time to start over, to put aside our negative and harmful side, and surrender to the God of forgiveness and love. Paul tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation."

Perhaps we could end our reflections today with a prayer:

God of forgiveness and love,

God of new beginnings,

Give us the courage to rise from our darkness.

Help us to see that no matter

what our lives look like at the present moment,

your promise is always one of newness.

Help us to begin again, to start over.

To look forwards, not backwards--

To see your invitation to new life

Here and hereafter.

We pray this through Jesus Christ, our life and our hope. Amen.