Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Repent, and be baptized can be scary and strange words to hear in 21st century America, but they are the only words that can really help someone.
Our culture is full of the people who are hurting. The reasons people hurt are as numerous as the people themselves; part of their pain is due to evil that has been inflicted upon them and part is due to their own bad choices and accompanying consequences.
Society encourages them to find help in a variety of ways that can temporarily relive their pain but rarely gets to the root of their real problem. Resources like self-help books, alcohol, shopping, gambling, and pornography numb the pain. Philosophies that allow you to blame others or declare yourself the victim try to reassign the pain. Sadly, these “fixes” sooner or later wear out and the unresolved pain is back, starting the continuous loop of pain and new attempts to numb it.
Nothing can permanently remove this pain but the strange and scary action of repentance.
Once we repent, the door opens to receive forgiveness, which is symbolized by baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In one verse, Peter provides a better lifelong solution to address people’s pain than all the self-help books and medications ever produced can offer.
Given the fact that the idea of “repenting” is seen as an old-fashioned, “turn or burn” scare tactic, it is critical that the Church teach that repentance is wrapped in the gift of love. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son Jesus to be the repository for all that is repented. Our sins are laid on Jesus, who takes the penalty for us on the cross. That action is the meaning of love let loose through repentance!
I believe men and women involved in abortion especially need to hear the call to repent. So often the anniversary date of our abortion triggers our unresolved pain, and we either look for worldly fixes, as noted above, or someone serves as Peter and helps us see the blessing that happens when we repent!
Dear Lord, give me courage to offer hurting people the gift of repentance and baptism. Help our culture recognize the value found in acknowledging and turning from our sin-filled, consequence laden actions and choices. Help us denounce our actions that go against Your word and teachings and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, equip us to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.
This month’s reflections are written by Deacon Georgette Forney. She was ordained to the vocational diaconate in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy in the Anglican Church in North America in 2014. As well as serving as President of Anglicans for Life, She is also the Co-Founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, an effort to raise awareness about the physical, spiritual, and emotional harm abortion does to women and men and to help those who are hurting after abortion find healing.