We begin our Lent every year on Forgiveness Sunday. Forgiveness Vespers, the evening service, marks the start of the Lenten Fast. This is a most precious tradition.
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual practices our faith sets before us. It is also one of the most difficult. Forgiveness Vespers isn’t just another “extra” or “bonus” service to attend–it is central to the message of our faith and our personal salvation.
But we’re afraid of it, because it’s hard.
On Forgiveness Sunday, we have to go face-to-face with each other with the truth about ourselves–that our feeling of importance and pride are self-deceptions, that we really are just as bad as “those other people” we demean, and that the roots of evil take hold in our hearts every single day. We have to face people we know we have hurt. We have to face the fact that we may have hurt someone, and never known about it. We have to face our own quiet and mundane evils, hidden behind our everyday failings.
Forgiveness Sunday can open up old wounds, or force you to revisit a hurt you thought–hoped–had been put in your past.
But this is what forgiveness is–it is something we must do every day for each other, and it is something that God does for us in every waking moment, if we are there to accept it. It’s not a single moment, but a daily practice that we have to put into place.
So let’s be there to accept it from God. Let’s be there to accept it from each other, every day. Let’s be there for Forgiveness Sunday, and forgive each other as God forgave us, all the way to Pascha and beyond.