December 09, 2019 Pastor Jake

Advent: Second Week

Advent: Second Week

I took this from a devotional email i received this week. It dovetails nicely with Sunday’s sermon. Peace of Christ be with you.

Weekly Gospel Reflection

Repentance and Grace

It is the Second Sunday of Advent – preparation in the church’s liturgical year for Christ who has come and is coming. And as it is every year, today’s gospel reading tells of the wild figure of John the Baptist in the desert crying out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”*

Repentance as a means of preparation for Christmas has been all but lost on our to-do lists of decorate, bake, sparkle, and buy. (I know.) Repentance is more commonly expected as part of Lent, the other liturgical season of holy preparation. But in the light of celebrating the gift of God’s self in embodied Presence, John’s call to repentance invites radical recollection of who we are as created in God’s image and likeness.

At the heart of our festivities of good cheer, our hymns of holy longing, our extra gestures of kindness typical this time of year, our lights strung in the darkness, our gift-giving, our stories and the movies that touch us deeply –there is something in us that wants to remember, to understand what really matters, to make a way for new life. But in truth, that something is not easily packaged; we can only realize our need and give ourselves over to God time and again.

The practice of repentance recognizes that we sin, both personally and collectively. Things are not the way they are meant to be. We have our part to confess. But we are not to get stuck there; John declares, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” As we act with mercy and forgiveness, with charity and justice, we experience God’s kingdom at hand – and can genuinely celebrate with joy.

Today’s invitation is to put down your to-do list. Enter your inner desert. Take a deep breath and pray for release of all that is clenching your heart, hurting you, others, and creation. Let your tears flow as the water of John’s baptism into what is yet to be imagined. Through your broken, beloved life may Christ, God’s Spirit, come into the world now.

*Matthew 3:1-12 (see also Mark 1:1-8Luke 3:1-17, and John 1:19-28)

For reflection:

  • What new awareness is God inviting in your heart this Advent season?
  • How does your life bear witness to the kingdom of heaven at hand?

–Trish Stefanik, Overlook Retreat House at Dayspring