When John the Baptizer called for all to “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near, (Matthew 3:2),” it should be taken as very good news indeed. Unfortunately, it has been used as a voice of warning, dire straits, even comic relief. Anything but the glory of God. Yet, John the Baptizer’s promise is exciting! Something new is just over our left shoulder. God is close; close enough that we only need to turn and look, but really look, not just glance. This sort of vision means that we are moved from passive viewing into an intimate connection with the world. I dare anyone to say that they have really looked at someone, a situation, a landscape, a piece of art, or anything, and not been moved and even changed by what we are seeing. That is what repentance is all about – changing direction. Moving out of the old way of going through the motions into direct experience. Suddenly, we are engaged.
John would eventually baptize Jesus (more on that later), and Jesus would see the Spirit of God descending “like a dove.” Jesus would then hear, “This is my son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).”
I think this is at the heart of repenting: we realize that we are loved. Jesus accepted that love and then went on to heal others with that love. Can we? Maybe this is a good Sunday to come to church. We will be lighting the second candle of Advent, the candle of peace. Let us come make peace with ourselves and with one another. Let us listen for the words that tell us we are loved and claimed.
We belong. Blessed be.
Rev. Sue Ann