The Joy of Repentance

This is part of a syndicated series for Lent 2019 with Harvard’s Christian Journal Ichthus. Visit Ichthus at

by Bradley Yam, SY’ 21.

“in thought, in word, in deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.”

When the time for confession comes in our Church service, a weighty silence hangs over the congregation. I close my eyes, and bow my head. Within seconds, I feel displaced, I feel my alienation. It was a sense that I have not done what I was supposed to do, I did not say what I should have said or even meant to say, I did not even think what I ought to have thought. I am assaulted by the knowledge that I am not the man I could be, not the man I should be.

“we are truly sorry
And repent of all our sins”

My mouth dries up, and my throat constricts. I stubbornly cling to the pew, as if choosing to confide in God at this moment would somehow sweep me away in a flood of condemnation and guilt. Errant thoughts flittered into my consciousness: “Don’t confess right now, who’s going to believe that you’re truly sorry? Why don’t you try harder, be a better human being next week, and then we’ll believe you.”

“For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past;”

The weight of sin was massive and oppressive. In the moment, something clicks. “What you owe, I have already paid.” I confess and repent, turning my heart to God, and am flooded with relief and unspeakable joy.  I still knew that I was not where I should be, but I no longer feel alone. I am being guided, shepherded to a truer home.

“and grant that we may serve you
in newness of life
to the glory of your name.”

I am ready to run the race for another day with perseverance, striving to love and serve, to do justice and walk humbly before the Lord.

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