46H

To Live In Peace and Repentance

I often find that, from Sunday to Sunday, I am struck by different moments in our church service. Last week, my husband and I made a short autumn getaway to Vermont (referred to simply as “God’s Country” in our house). On Sunday morning, we stood side by side in a small Russian Orthodox Church outside Montpelier, on what can only be described as the perfect autumn day: the sun was bright; the sky was clear, intense blue; the air cool and fresh. The morning sunlight softly illuminated the smoke from the censor as it gently wafted and curled around the altar table. The deacon took his place facing the altar doors and began reading off prayers, and one in particular struck my heart:

To complete the remaining time of our lives in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.

The choir and congregation responded:

Grant this, O Lord.

It is a humble request: not for fame and fortune, not for material comfort, not for grand success. What struck me about this prayer, though, was just how profound of a request it is. Peace and repentance. After the service was over, I still considered that prayer. In it’s way, it sums up the goal of the Christian life. At the end of my days—whenever that comes—if I’m able to look back and say I lived a life of peace and repentance, I’ll have lived well.

When asked the questions, either internally by myself or externally by others, “What do you want to do with your life?” or “What do you hope to accomplish?” my answer usually resembles a resume: I’d like to make a living as a writer; I’d like to work from home, doing freelance and online stuff. I’d like to complete a book. Of course, there’s also what you could call the resume of my personal life: I’d like to have a few kids; to raise them in a little home with a little garden; to continue to travel and experience new places. None of these are ignoble goals, necessarily, but they are selfish and secondary. At worst, they become idols for me: I’ll be content, fulfilled, satisfied…if only. This prayer pulls me back from my endless lists and re-centers me on what matters.

To complete the remaining time of our lives in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.

It grounds the heart.

The prayer is also all encompassing. It applies to all Christians, regardless of our specific circumstances or life paths. No matter what else is going on in life, we can always strive to live in peace with God and our fellow man, reaching outside of ourselves to help the poor, the sick, and the needy, because we love God by loving his children (Matthew 25:40). No matter what else is going on in life, we can continually practice repentance. Spiritual disciplines and sacraments facilitate sanctification and growth: prayer, fasting, confession, communion. They help properly orient us toward God and bring us closer to him. Reciting the Jesus Prayer throughout our daily lives is a simple way to focus our spirits and adopt a repentant mindset:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Maybe my thoughts were affected by the endless beauty of Vermont’s hills and winding roads, all gold and red and green with the changing leaves, and the idyllic simple life that every country market, grazing cow, and quaint farmhouse (complete with smoking chimney) seemed to represent. But I was moved by this prayer and the realization that a life of peace and repentance is all we truly need. It’s plenty to hope and work for. Maybe it’s all we should ask for.

  • http://goreligions.com/ best religion in the world

    Many of us think of spirituality as being achieved through religious laws
    and pray or attendance. It is born within and grows with our thoughts.

  • ERIC EH BUDDHADHARMA

    This world is getting too much into religion; people going astray from
    the main purpose of what actually religions teaches us. Communities are
    foolishly fighting and killing each other in the name of religion. We
    need to remember only one little thing; we are all born with a few
    special and unique features, our appearance, fingerprint and personal
    religion. Like in a computer we have an operating software, unless
    this primary software works correctly, we cannot work with other
    secondary softwares. Corrupt primary operating software will give
    incorrect results or output; in the same way if our personal religion,
    with which each one of us are born, is corrupted, we turn evil and our
    output is negative and unfriendly to this world. Take for instance,
    two brothers, both Christians, church goers, one turns out to be
    friendly, helpful and loving while the other is nasty, evil and
    selfish. How does this happen ? this happens only because we are born
    with our unique individual religion like our appearance and fingerprint.

    Each one of us, try and live with dignity and respect; this can happen
    only when we conduct our lives with what is real and true in this
    world. Following logic and reality is the only way we can find peace,
    happiness, reconcile to bitter memories.If you read my blog
    http://www.zennliving.blogspot.in or http://www.zennliving.wordpress.com you will
    understand what I mean.

  • Che

    Repentance is the key to salvation.
    Listen and be blessed!
    Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy