Lent 1: An appeal to God for a good conscience
In the midst of two stories we know so well, the story of Noah and the flood and the story of Jesus and his baptism we hear in the First Letter of Peter some teaching about the nature of our baptism. He speaks of it “not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience through Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21)
Lent is a time for us to be especially mindful of any and every arrogance reflecting the thought that some peoples are superior to others. I speak of the sins of racism, ethnic cleansing, and government-enforced policies of assimilation designed “to remake others in our image”. (The Anglican Church of Canada’s Apology to the survivors of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada, 1993)
Lent is a season to confess these sins against our brothers and sisters. It is a time to correct attitudes, words, and actions, blatant or subtle that perpetuate them. It is a time to forge new relationships grounded in our baptismal vow to strive for justice and peace among all people.
To quote First Peter, Lent is a season of “appeal to God for a good conscience”, cleansed of the sins of prejudice, and cleared for respect and affection, one for another in accord with the Gospel we proclaim.
“For all false judgements, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbours and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
(The Litany of Penitence for Ash Wednesday, The Book of Alternative Services, The Anglican Church of Canada)