Return

This week we turn our minds toward repentance which involves sorrow for our sins, a turning or change of direction, and a resolution to not repeat the sins of our past.

Rev. Michael Costello

Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)

These words from Hosea need context. In chapters 4 and 5 the prophet makes clear that God was not pleased at how far Israel had strayed from God’s ways. Israel’s prospects were grim if they continued their sinful path. God said that he would return again to his place until Israel acknowledged their guilt and sought his face (5:15).

The Hebrew word used for God’s return in chapter 5 is used again at the beginning of chapter 6 when we read: “Come, let us return to the Lord.” In God’s own return Israel is given the opportunity to return themselves—to repent.

The exhortation that begins the Ash Wednesday liturgy reads, in part: “God created us to experience joy in communion with him, to love all humanity, and to live in harmony with all of his creation. But sin separates us from God … who does not desire us to come under his judgment, but to turn to him and live.”

The clarion call in Hosea is for each of us, too. Especially during Lent we return to God, acknowledging our sin, turning—repenting—toward the new life given to us in Jesus Christ. It is, after all, through his death and resurrection that God, in the words of the Te Deum laudamus, has “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”

Prayer: Too often we stray from your will, Lord God. Help us return to you, forgive our sins, and strengthen us in faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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