22/02/2023 by Rev. Doug Walker 0 Comments
Pete and Repeat
As seen in the HEARTneat and Village Voice
“Pete and Repeat”
As the old riddle goes, “Pete and Repeat were standing on a bridge. Pete jumped off. Who was left?” The obvious answer voiced would be “Repeat.” The teller of the riddle would then say, “Pete and Repeat were standing on a bridge. Pete jumped off. Who was left?” Again, the obvious answer would be Repeat. As a young boy, I can’t remember how many times I gave the correct answer only to hear the riddle told again! I was a pretty naïve young boy! Finally, I realized the answer was a request, not a name at all!!
In examining the Pete/Repeat saga, it’s clear something must occur before we get to the punchline, an action. In essence, Pete had to jump off the bridge first before the inevitable response to the question was voiced. Thinking about the church season we are in, I liken the bridge occupants to actions by Christians during Lent.
God spent the majority of the Old Testament, or as I sometimes like to call it, the Hebrew Scriptures, calling the nation of Israel back to fellowship with Himself. They would return after some great calamity at the urging of a great prophet. Even though they returned, there was great resistance in doing so. But as we all know, they would again ebb away from Jehovah God. It was only through the messages God gave them through the prophets that caused an introspection and eventual epiphany.
This is the season of Lent in a nutshell. Some people see this 40-day time period as one of suffering and denial of oneself. While that may be true to a small degree, it is largely a reflection time to search our hearts and get rid of the things we don’t need in our lives; those things which prevent us from having a full relationship with God.
This season can also be a time of great joy. When we get rid of the inhibitors to God in our lives, the returning may at first be guilt-laden, or penitent. But you can’t keep that mindset when you are in the presence of God. He covers us with grace and never holds our sins over our head. He sent His Son to take away those sins!
A mindset of repentance can only occur if one has been penitent in the past. It’s the old Pete/Repeat example. Admittedly, we move away from God from time to time and then return to God. If it is the first time this happens, then we are penitent. If it is the second and beyond, then we are repentant.
Think of Lent this year in a different way. Sure, we need to reflect on our sins and how we don’t need some of them in our lives. But this year think of Lent as a 40-day season of joy. We look forward to Resurrection Sunday, a remembrance of Jesus rising from the grave having taken the sins of the world from all those who believe.
If I was writing scripture, it would go like this: This is my command: return to God in a penitent attitude. But once you get there, be joyful because you are closer to God than before!