Sunday of Forgiveness Liturgy
12 March 1989
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
After these weeks of preparation during which we have examined our soul, our lives, all our relationship before the eyes and the judgement of God, we enter today into the joy of Lent; the joy of Lent: the word ‘lent’ means the spring; it is a beginning, and a beginning of life, a beginning of newness, a new time. It is a time when we will no longer be reminded of our own sins, no longer be confronted with images in parables of fall and repentance, but faced with the names of Saints who have started their lives as we start them: the frail, weak, vacillating, but who by the grace of God, by the power of God have become what they are: men, women, children whom we can venerate, in whom we can rejoice who can be set as examples to us, to whom we can turn for their prayers unto salvation.
Tonight we will start on this journey; on the journey that leads us from our sinful condition, recognised, repentant unto a new time, unto the Resurrection of Christ which is (a, the) beginning for us of our o w n eternal life. We will start on this journey to-night as the people of Israel started from the land of Egypt for the Promised Land: still frail, still burdened, still incompletely free; but it is not by looking back at ourselves, but by looking t o w a r d s the Living God Who is Life and salvation, and to the example of those who have been victorious by the power of God that we will find courage, inspiration to come to the final victory, to the newness of life which is our calling and God’s promise. We will have to journey together, and we must not be in any delusion: we will be difficult for one another as companions on the journey; but we will depend on one another if we want to achieve to come to an end, – in the same way in which the Israelites were in the desert: not always obedient to God, not always loyal to one another, and yet, needing each other in order to reach the promised goal.
So, let us start now; let us think of the feast which we keep next Sunday: Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not the triumph of the Orthodox over anyone else; it is the triumph of God over people. The triumph of His truth, the triumph of God in the lives of people.
And than, let us look at one saint after the other, and listen to what he has got to say to us: Mary of Egypt, John of the Ladder (Gregory Palamas) and all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ. And we will then reach the point at which we must forget everyone and everything, and remember nothing , no one but the Lord Jesus Christ: what He is, what He has done for us, what He is doing for us. Let us learn to forget ourselves in the course of those weeks, joyfully, gratefully, that we can now turn away from ourselves and look only Godwards. And when the time of Passion week comes, again, in a new way, with a new determination, with a new renunciation to ourselves, turn and look at God Who has become man that we may be saved, and be grateful, forget ourselves, remember only Him and He will remember us unto salvation. Amen.