Scripture - Acts 3:19 - Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Theme - Repentance and Forgiveness of Sin
Devotion - In our verse for today Peter urges the crowd to repent. Author N.T. Wright says this about repentance, '[The repentance that Jesus calls for] is not, then, simply the individual moral turning from private sin.' What IS repentance if not THAT? Wright suggests that when Jesus (or I assume, his disciples) call for repentance for the forgiveness of sins they are inviting the hearer to re-join in the liberating work of God.
Israel's identity comes from the experience of God, with Moses, leading them out of Egyptian oppression into the promised land. This made them the chosen people, plucked out of abuse and suffering, and invited to live in covenant with God. This covenant was an invitation to shalom, personal and communal wholeness. The wilderness journey was the time of learning to live in shalom, to practice wholeness. Over time, Israel struggled and failed to remain faithful to the covenant, to guard the common good and so the consequence was the Babylonian exile. Sin then would be heard as the failure of the people to live in covenant with God AND with one another. It was the refusal to nurture and maintain shalom, the wholistic health of the people. Repentance is the desire to return to covenant, to material and spiritual wholeness. It is the hope that when the people return to covenant, God will return in loving rescue.
Peter proclaims that Jesus has come to offer God's loving rescue Israel. Jesus makes them able to be faithful. That offer is for all people, not just one nation. Notice how repentance and sin invite us into a story and a mission. Sin is the failure of the community to be faithfully shaped by the new covenant, sharing bread and cup, washing one another's feet, welcoming the stranger, and serving the vulnerable. Repentance is the return to this covenant, the empowerment to participate in the shalom, peace, wholeness that God desires for all God's children. Peter offers to the crowd a renewed offer to live in and nurture the peace of God inaugurated by Jesus.
Prayer - Show us, Lord, in your love and mercy both how we have lived up to and into your wholeness. Help us not to avoid discomfort by admitting the ways as individuals and as a people we have failed, even rejected that wholeness that includes all. Teach us to experience repentance as the joy of new closeness and cooperation with you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.