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The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan

The Rev. Dr. Kimberleigh Buchanan is senior pastor of First Congregational Church (UCC) in Asheville, NC.

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First Congregational United Church of Christ, Asheville, NC


True Repentance

June 18, 2010

Do you remember the old days when we apologized because we felt badly about something we'd done?  What I mean to say is, do you remember when we apologized before the polls came out?

Apologies seem so complicated these days.  Sometimes, as with the Gulf Oil Spill, it takes time just to figure out who should apologize.  Then you have to figure out to whom to apologize.  And so often these days, the how and when of the apology are precisely choreographed...to get the best bounce in the polls.  (Then, as BP learned this week, it's important to construct the apology in such a way that you don't have to apologize for the apology!)

I don't know.  King David messed up a lot.  I mean, a lot.  But the psalm of confession attributed to him after the whole Bathsheba affair...  "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgression.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."  (Ps. 51:1-2, NRSV)  David bore the consequences of his sins; he did so for the rest of his life.  But the person who wrote this psalm is a person who knew how to repent; he knew how to apologize.  He knew how to take responsibility for his transgressions.  He spoke from his heart.

Maybe that's what's missing from so many public apologies these days-heart.  Apologies have become tightly crafted logistical machinations designed to increase popularity and decrease fiscal responsibility. 

I wonder what might happen to the polls if a culpable public figure offered a simple and sincere "I'm sorry."  And better yet, I wonder what might happen to his or her soul? 

Peace for your journey,

Kim


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