Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teshuvah

Rosh Hashanah. A new year. Also sometimes called the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah. A time to make a joyful noise. This is the time when the Rabbis believe that the world was created. It is a celebration of God as King and Creator. We are reminded that God brought the world into being and continues to uphold the world, a continual outpouring of life and creativity.

These days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of Teshuvah, repentance. A time to reflect on our mistakes and make the conscious choice to turn toward the only one who can offer unconditional grace and forgiveness, toward the King and Creator, toward the only one who can heal our brokenness.


These words from John Parsons at Hebrew4Christians spoke to me today,
"God is both infinitely loving and infinitely just, and both of these "attributes" are inseparably a part of who he is. God is One. Nonetheless, the cross of Yeshua proves that "love is stronger than death, passion fiercer than the grave; its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame, the very flame of the Lord" (Song. 8:6). It is at the cross that "love and truth have met, righteousness and peace have kissed" (Psalm 85:10). This implies that we must drop our defenses – even those supposed objections and pretenses voiced by our shame – and "accept that we are accepted." It is God's great love for you that leads you to repent and to turn to him. Allow yourself to be embraced by his "everlasting arms."
It truly is a time of celebration. We, so often, wallow in our mistakes, grovel in our repentance. We view repentance as a time to hate ourselves. I think of self-flagellation and penance...something church history has taught us. This isn't it at all, though. Repentance is confession and turning away. It is starting fresh. It is acknowledging that we are loved enough to be forgiven.

I read in the book To Forgive is Human that people don't admit mistakes or ask forgiveness unless there is some possibility that they will be forgiven. This is the basis upon which relationships are built. You cannot be honest and truthful in your relationship, admitting mistakes & moving on to be a better person unless you can reasonably expect some grace.

The King and Creator offers us this kind of acceptance, love and grace. Repentance is impossible without this grand acceptance.  And self-hatred isn't necessary. In fact, it's contradictory. Possibly, it's even a defense mechanism. If we hate ourselves, we don't actually have to believe that we can change, be different, be loved, be forgiven. If we drop the defense of self-hatred, we can repent, turn, start fresh, walk new...right into a sweet new year. This is joyous, indeed!

Shanah Tovah!



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