What a beautiful gift the church offers us each year in the form of Forgiveness Vespers. It can be a hard service. It is off putting to some. Some may wonder why we would ask forgiveness of people we don't know, or people we feel certain we haven't wronged? To miss out on this interaction though is to miss out on a great catharsis of the Orthodox faith. The church offers us this moment to cleanse. It matters not if I have offended each and every person present (though odds are, without my knowledge I more likely than not have at some point). Even if I am asking forgiveness of someone I have never met, I am a sinner. I was created in the image and likeness of God, and I have corrupted that image and likeness each day. I have damaged and stained that beautiful white garment I was given at baptism. Each time I tarnish that image, I sin against all of humanity. So, this forgiveness is asked of all of humanity, that I might start fresh each year and work towards preserving that likeness better. And of course, there are those moments when I come face to face with those who I know I have harmed. Maybe it is just a careless word, maybe it is a strained relationship, maybe it is a long term tension between personalities that likely will never be close. And maybe it is someone I have hurt deeply through word or deed. Certainly each member of my family has received painful wounds from me. Each encounter is a moment to humble oneself before Christ and each other, to ask forgiveness, and to seek to do better in the coming year. The hugs, the words of forgiveness, the shared tears, all are small steps toward the healing of the soul. What a great gift the church offers us each year, to humble ourselves before God and each other. The joy and lightness upon leaving this service can only be compared to that of confession or of the Paschal service when one has fasted, prepared and entered into the full cycle of services. It brings a sense of new beginning, and for that I am ever grateful. To each of you in the online world with whom I have crossed paths, I ask the same. For any stray word, false humility, false appearance or hurt; Forgive me a sinner.
Thank you for taking the time to post this. I agree totally, and I am very very thankful for Forgiveness vespers service. Although I have more anxiety now than at our first attendance 8 years ago. I believe I am more thankful. I so appreciate your encouragement! Lord bless our Lenten Season!
God forgives! Forgive me!
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