The great theologian, Joni Mitchell, illuminates what “reconciliation” is all about for us today. Well, okay, so she’s not a theologian, but her song is worthy of our ponderings.
Her refrain sings, “And the seasons [in our case our lives] go round and round, and the painted ponies [those of temptation] go up and down, we’re captive on a carousel of time. We can’t return; we can only look behind from where we came And go round and round in the circle game.”
Confession is a look backward, a review, where we cannot return. Even if we desperately wanted to.
How often do we feel our lives are a circular rotation with neither a beginning nor end, just the continuing setbacks, and failings many were confessed the last time. But that’s okay. Not to worry.
Confession is that time, that spiritual opportunity to hop off life's carousel. At least for a short while. We hop off and encounter our merciful God in humility, resolve, and contrition. Not a bad formula. I’d say it’s a pretty healthy way of living and expressing our faith. Firmly rooted on holy ground. Ezekiel told us today in similar words, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Hopping off and firmly landing on holy ground.
Joni reminds us, “We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came And go round and round.” That’s the carousel. That’s our futility harboring our unchangeable regrets when Confession’s eye is always on admitting those yesterdays and with a faithful, resolving eye for all our tomorrows.
I don’t know of anyone who walks away not feeling a hopeful joy. Not only joy, which is powerful in itself, but like a divine joy donut stuffed with divine hope. There’s a peace of mind and a reunion of sorts - both in our relationship with God and in our relationship with ourselves. We usually don’t consider a “relationship with ourselves,” but it’s definitely there.
Here are three “M’s” for you today. (By the way, preachers love alliterations.) They are manage, modify, and mitigated. In the prodigal son, it is with a promising hope that the silly kid finally uncovers those three “M’s” and lives a fruitful life in fruitfulness in a humble humility instead of his youthful waywardness and selfishness.
You know, we may wish for dramatic, life-changing changes in our lives, but folks, it just doesn’t happen that way, only in movies while comfortably seated in your lounge chair eating popcorn. People don’t change. You and I can’t do a 180 on life’s carousel of 360. I’ve had bits of sarcasm throughout my life. It ain’t going to go away. However, I can use those three “M’s” in my prayers and thoughts, especially in my thoughts before speaking.
So, how about those three “M’s” practiced and living within your life? Manage, modify, and mitigate?
Do you know what happens after your confession and leaving the church? You hop back on that revolving carousel that is our lives.
But please also remember that you can hop off … anytime you need to.