Posted by on Dec 6, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Good News of Repentance

Dear Lord…as we continue to prepare to celebrate your coming to us as a baby, please help us to prepare our lives to reach out to your people. Please help us to share your good news with all we meet….we can share your good news in so many ways. Guide us, dear Lord, as we are your disciples in your world.

The gospel reading for this 2nd Sunday in Advent is from Mark 1:1-8. Mark does not go through the genealogy of Jesus as do the other three gospels. Mark begins immediately with the prophecy from Isaiah and states that this is the good news of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Another of the readings for this Sunday is from Isaiah 40:1-11 where God promises through Isaiah that God will send the people comfort and all will see the glory of the Lord together. Mark quotes this portion when he says, “See I am sending my messenger ahead of you who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

Well…Mark follows this quotation with the mention of John the Baptist who appeared from the wilderness and was proclaiming the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. This message was one that all of the people who heard it flocked to hear more from John and to be baptized. The quotation from Isaiah grounds John’s work as part of scripture. And, it sets Jesus’ ministry as the work of God in and with the people of Israel and neighboring countries.

The good news that John and Jesus proclaim is that of God’s actions in the world. They promise the coming of the kingdom that will become true in the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. In reality, John is calling the people of Israel to repentance and promises that the one coming after him will baptize the people with the Holy Spirit.

John had come from the wilderness. This was an area outside of the populated cities….so we are looking at two completely different areas. In the wilderness, there was no structure…as there was in the city. So, he was speaking to people who were both socially and geographically different. But, they understood what he was saying and wanted to be baptized by him. This was a baptism of repentance.

As we see from the last verse, John said he would be baptizing with water, for people requesting repentance. The one coming after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit. However, even at this time, there was only one baptism. John was proclaiming what the Son of God would be doing.

So…what was John preaching about baptism. He was speaking about the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. The people would be spiritually cleansed in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. It was bringing people into a transformed group whose sins were forgiven.

This was good news to the people of Israel and it is good news to us. Let us look at what John was calling people to do. He was calling them to repent. I believe I have always thought of repentance as being sorry for my actions. But…what about after that type of confession and repenting for actions that were not indicative of a follower of Christ.

What does our repenting really mean? This means that we are ready to prepare our lives and order our lives to reflect this change in thanks to God. Our actions MUST reflect our words. If we are sorry for what we have done or not done, our actions must reflect the change in our lives.

If we are sorry for our actions and words, there MUST be a change. Do we close our eyes to something that is definitely wrong? We must be willing to change that and stand up for what is right.

How can we change things in our own lives to reflect the fact that we have repented and have accepted the forgiveness given to us? What do we need to change? God gives us the gift of being able to support each other and encourage each other. God gives us the encouragement to not only protect ourselves right now from the virus, but to do what we can to take responsibility for our actions and protect others. Do you suppose that there is a chance we’ll view people and our friends in a different manner when we come out of this time in our lives? Will we value our friends and family a little more? That is also an example of making our words about missing people agree with the actions of valuing people more….just what repentance really is.

We hold out the hope of many changes. Who gives us this gift of hope? God in Jesus Christ give us this hope…especially now when we prepare to again celebrate the gift we were all given many years ago. I think we all need to recognize the hope that came to us when Jesus Christ was born so many years ago.

We have the good news from God that we read about in Isaiah…in the gospels…in all of the books in our Bible. The good news to help us continue with our lives. The good news to prepare for whatever may be coming. The good news of repentance…that God forgives our sins and the wrongs we do, and we promise to order our lives to reflect this change.

As one of the statement in the baptismal sacrament says, “Through baptism, we are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the sprit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.”

Let us celebrate the good news and order our lives to reflect that we are disciples of our Lord.


December 2020


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