Our world is full of regret. Our homes, our schools, our prisons, even our churches are full of regret. We all wish things were different. We all daydream about how things might have been. “If only I’d been a better parent.” “If only I had studied harder.” “If only I'd kept my mouth shut.” “If only I hadn’t pulled the trigger.” “If only our offering plates had been filled more often.” “If only Pastor had been more outgoing.” “If only I had asked her.” How much different our lives and our communities and churches would be if only we had done things differently. Who doesn't regret past sins and indiscretion? Who doesn't wish he could get back the money that he wasted? Or take back the words he said in pride or drunkenness? Who doesn't think about how different things would have been, how much better they could have been?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are sinners. We make horrible decisions. Our flesh is weak. We follow our bellies and our hormones. If only you knew what made for peace! If only you'd allow the Father to provide for you instead of seeking your own wealth. If only you would allow the Son to gather you in like a hen gathers her chicks. If only you would allow the Spirit to comfort you. If you look back at your life and regret what you have done, how much more obvious has it been to God all along? He has watched it unfold, stupidity upon stupidity, destructive behavior and bad decisions fueled by selfishness, greed, and lust. Repent.
Do not think that He can't see you in the dark. Do not think that, if you hide from Him, He does not notice or is not there. Jesus has wept over you and your rebellion. He has sweated and bled for you. As humans value things, God's love always seems reckless and wasteful, like employers paying laborers for work they have not done, like farmers sowing seeds on trodden paths and weedy or rocky patches. Repent…but do not despair. Jesus Christ has not abandoned nor forgotten you. He still wants you.
Jerusalem, the “city of peace,” was bent on war. But the Prince of Peace did not flinch. For even while they, and we, did not know, would not know, willfully refused the things that make for peace, He knew. He knew we would reject Him for a murderer. He knew that we would fall asleep and pretend to forget the vows we made. He knew we would betray Him. He knew the mocking and ridicule, the scourging and torture, the pain and sorrow that He would face at our hands. But He went anyway. Even if we did not know what made for peace, He knew.
And your peace was worth it to Him. You needed His Blood to be free. That was the cost of guilt, the demand of Justice. And so He gave it. So He still gives it. He sweated it out in the garden. He bled it on the pavement and on the place of the skull. He drained the cup of wrath that could not be removed so that Jerusalem, so that you, would have peace. Surely this is the Son of God, a righteous, selfless Man! Surely He has atoned for your sins. Surely He has won for you the peace that passes all understanding and bestows it upon you without cost or price. You are no longer imprisoned in your regret. The grave's victory is but an illusion. Death has no sting.
Let go of your regrets. Cast your burden on the Lord. He will sustain you. He loves you. He bears no grudge. He has no regrets. He was glad to pay the price to make you His. You are worth it to Him—worth every drop of blood, every moment of agony. And still He wants you. He has washed you in that watered blood from His side. He would gather you this day in that same Blood, given and shed for you. He declares you righteous and free: free of guilt, shame, and regret. He lays open the future before you, a future full of joy and peace in His presence. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.