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For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. -Matthew 6:14-15

In the Orthodox tradition Lent begins like wading into water. We spend time transitioning from where we’ve been to where we want to go. We spend a week preparing to remove meat from our diet, offering prayer and awareness and culminating in the feast of Meatfare. The following week we do the same with dairy products, ending that week with what we call Cheesefare. But the last bit of preparation comes in the form of Forgiveness Sunday. In some communities the practice of Forgiveness Sunday comes at the end of the morning Liturgy. In ours, we hold a Vespers service that evening so that as my priest put it, “It takes effort and commitment to attend.” It’s intentional and it’s public and it’s powerful. It’s another way to “begin clean” as we enter into the next 40 days of Lent on Clean Monday.

But it isn’t just for our church community. We seek to start clean, for as much as we’re able, with all of our relationships. It’s beautiful, it’s difficult and it’s humbling.

For my part, I’d like to take this space to humbly ask your forgiveness for those moments of overly bold assumptions, for taking advantage, for not fulfilling responsibilities, for saying the wrong thing, for saying the hurtful thing, for being an idiot, for being slow to listen. There is so much for which to ask forgiveness for this imperfect soul but I am sincere because I want to be better, in word and in deed.

#prayer #beginningclean #forgivenessvespers #fasting #Lent