Today's Reading: Joel 2:12-19
"'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, 'Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with morning, and rend your heart and not your garments.'" (Joel 2:12-13a)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Repent! Repent completely. Repent with all your heart. Turn from your sins and stop doing them forever. Repent as if your salvation depends upon it, because it does.
Don't just kneel. Don't just beat your breast or tear your clothes. Don't make a big show of repenting so that everyone can see how holy you are!
"No," says the Lord today, "Rip your heart out and get a new one." Repent of everything in you. Turn from everything focused on you. Then, after you have repented of all the sins you know, repent of even your imperfect repentance. Today, for Lent, give up thinking that your repentance will save you. It won't. You could repent until the Lord returns and that won't rescue you from the fires of hell that is due for your sins.
Believe the Gospel! Jesus alone saves you. He took upon Himself your life: your obedience and your punishment. He lived His life as you should live and then died the death that you deserve for how you have lived. He died, and you--with all that God could possibly hold against you--died with Him.
Then He rose, and you rose with Him. Jesus is now your justification before God. He is your forgiveness. He is your life. He is your salvation. He is your repentance before the Father.
Repent of your sins. Believe the Gospel. Repent and believe. Your whole life is full of repentance and faith. And your repentance is like your faith: it's not up to you. It rests on Jesus! Jesus' death and resurrection provide your repentance before the Father.
Christian repentance isn't just that you turn from your sins. It's also that you believe that Jesus lived and died for you. Faith, which flows from the Lord's gifts, grasps hold of Jesus and we are saved. Repentance is contrition and faith!
Repent. Believe in Jesus. That's your life. Repent totally. Believe in Jesus. Die in the waters of Holy Baptism. Be raised to new life--a life lived for others. Live in Christ by faith and in your neighbor by love. That's your repentance. That's your faith. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.