Going Deeper 12/7/2018

The Gospel reading for Advent 2   
Luke 3:1-6   In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.  He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Advent is a season of preparations, most notably the preparing of our hearts and minds and lives to receive the coming Messiah.  The journey of preparation must always start in the valley of repentance.  After all, we need to know our need before it can be filled, right?  John the Baptizer's call was to "Prepare the way of the Lord" via "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

Some preach and teach of repentance as if it is mostly a one-time thing:  repent, come to Jesus, and live happily-ever-after.  In truth, repentance is an ongoing process, and Advent truly ought to be a focus on something that is continual and not seasonal.  As God's children by grace, we are undergoing a life-long process of transformation, of recognizing at a deeper and deeper level the depth of our sin, and at the same time experiencing more and more profoundly God's healing love.  

Repentance prepares us for comprehending and receiving that most critical "double-change agent" we call grace.  The first and foundational change grace grants us is a change from being enemies of God to children of God.  This is all gift, and it is all accomplished by God through Jesus and the Spirit.  We see ourselves as irreparably broken, and God instead called us unconditionally beloved.

The second and ongoing change brought about by grace is the rediscovering and re-creating of our true, created selves.  This is a process we are involved in, an ongoing determination to walk and live more powerfully in the Holy Spirit, seeking to become more and more like Jesus each and every day, in all we think and do and say.  Ongoing repentance involves a battle with the sin that remains in our hearts our lives.  We know our sin is forgiven; now we desire for our sin to be diminished.

Repent... for the Kingdom of God is at hand!

With You in Grace,
Mark

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