Pastor’s Prompt

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Advent is a season of preparation for the Hope that is coming. Matthew recounts the life of John the Baptist. John was sent to the wilderness to prepare the way. He preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.“ (Matthew 3:2) When we think about repentance, we generally think of Lent, not Advent. Yet, repentance is at the heart and soul of Advent.

So what is repentance?

When we think of repentance we may think of confession. It is another season for us to say we are sorry for our sins before God, and that would be partly true.   In confession we acknowledge and admit the sins we have done specifically to God and others.   We are moved to confession because of God’s promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is good and even better when we confess to one another. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful.” There is something so powerful and freeing when we confess to another trusted brother or sister in the Lord. It is healing, yet that is not repentance. Confession is a part of repentance. Repentance is a call to a radical change of behavior. Repentance means we turn away from our sinful life and turn to God.

John chastises the religious leaders calling them a “brood of vipers.” Why was John so hard on them?   Repentance means I take Christ grace and mercy seriously and with God’s help I change my behavior. Repentance is not to be taken casually or out of religious obligation but with a heart set on living differently. Repentance is hard! Perhaps this is why heaven gets so excited over repentance, “Jesus says, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not.” (Luke 15:7)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is the specific sin that I need to confess to God?
  2. Who is a trusted Christian I can confess to?
  3. How will I with the help of God’s grace and mercy repent of this sin?