Metanoia: On Repentance

In the Orthodox Church, they start Lent not with Ash Wednesday, but instead Forgiveness Vespers on the Sunday before the start of the Great Lent. The faithful ask forgiveness from one another and make a metania before the wronged person, which is described as a mini prostration in which one “one bends from the waist, reaches toward the floor with the right hand open and facing outward, and touches the ground.” (Source: Orthodox Wiki). The person making the metania says “Forgive me a sinner” and the other person responds with “God forgives. Forgive me.” (The author Frederica Mathewes-Green has a beautiful essay on this. You can read it here.)

As I pondered what the title of this booklet should be, I kept coming back to the Greek word metanoia, which means “repentance”. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary defines repentance as “a complete change of orientation involving a judgment upon the past and a deliberate redirection for the future.” Lent is a time for focusing on our lives and turning away from sin and things that are not life-giving. We give up vices, take on reading or prayers, and try to reorient our lives toward Jesus.

I pray that the reflections in this devotional booklet might help you in your efforts to reorient your life and that they help you to draw close to Jesus during this season in the church year. Each day, we have laid out the lectionary readings, given you a reflection on one or more of the readings, and ended with a prayer.

Blessings to you all for a holy and meaningful Lent!
-Jen McCabe