Like Lent, this passage from Romans contains within itself both a gloomy disposition and the brightness of soul-filling hope. We each have to come to terms with our own sinfulness. But, there is hope because while our sins may be different, we are each inescapably sinful. We are linked together by it. Lent offers space to consider our individual and communal sins, with the comfort of knowing that our fellow sinners are doing the same.
Confession, also called The Reconciliation of a Penitent (in the Episcopal Church) is a common (but not mandatory) thing people do during Lent. In the Book of Common Prayer, the first form of Reconciliation concludes with the priest telling the penitent to “Go in peace, and pray for me, a sinner.” As a community of sinners, we are each truly in need of one another’s prayers. But the really extraordinary thing about all of this is that we, as sinners, still have the power to pray for one another. No matter what we have done or not done, God hears us.
God chose a long time ago through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to forgive our sins. I will probably spend my whole life striving to be reconciled with God and my neighbor. During Lent, I come face to face with my own sin. But in Lent, God empowers us to break free from the shame and fear of that sin. The soul-filling hope is in God’s promise that God has given us each God’s whole self on the Easter cross. God loves us as the sinners we are, and God’s love is a gift given freely which enables each of us to be reconciled with God and one another.