Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent XI

How it all got started and who was first is a matter of speculation, but what is certain is the fact that John the Baptist was baptizing folks at the Jordan River and crowds of folks showed up. He must have been a curiosity since few people would have been drawn out there to his place in the wilderness by the message he was preaching. Mark and other gospel writers say, "John the baptizer appeared (was baptizing) in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Mark 1:4) What John was doing must have been of God for people are not normally attracted to someone preaching about repentance.
Repentance is no easy word. It is a word which speaks of a radical response. The meaning of repentance is not captured by wishing something had been done differently, or by merely expressing sorrow for some deed. To say,"I'm sorry," is a long way from what the Bible means as it talks about repentance. To repent involves turning completely from some act or action which is inconsistent with how Jesus taught us to live.
Our sinful actions and attitudes may be justifiable and defendable, but if they amount to something Jesus would not do were He present, then they represent something from which we are called to turn. Repentance means my unkindness is to be replaced with kindness; my judgmental spirit with mercy; my holding to a grudge with unconditional forgiveness. The work of repentance is hard work. Not everyone who gives lip service to it really wants to do it.

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