Advent: Adopting a Posture of Repentance

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During this fourth week of Advent, we consider the way that God prepared his people for the coming of the Messiah by sending a messenger, John the Baptizer, to preach a message of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. God first sent a prophet of the Most High, John. Only then did he send the Son of the Most High, Jesus. God’s prophet (John) would call people to turn from their sins so that they could embrace God’s Son (Jesus), the giver of salvation.

It was necessary for God to send John prior to sending Jesus because his people incorrectly thought that they were ready for God to dwell in their midst. In Israel’s Scriptures, the prophets referenced the coming of Gods Messiah as the Day of the Lord. On this day, God would set all things right. Tragically, even as Israel prayed for the Day of the Lord to come, they did not realize that they were not ready for it. They were not ready because they had not adopted a posture of repentance and faith. In Amos 5:18, the prophet warned, “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! What will the day of the LORD be for you?” Because of their unfaithfulness to God, the Day of the Lord would be a day of judgment rather than salvation.

It is common—and even right—for Christians to pray for the day of the Lord. Yet, as we anticipate the return of Jesus Christ, we should learn from God’s people in days gone by. We must adopt a posture of repentance and obedient faith so that the day of the Lord will not be a day of woe and judgment, but a day o salvation and rejoicing. We are especially helped by the faithful individuals that we observe in the first chapters of Luke’s Gospel.

The individuals who waited with the obedience of faith for the first Advent of the Messiah show how to wait. Like them, we must wait with repentant hearts so that we might find salvation through the forgiveness of sins. In this final week prior to our celebration of Christmas, may we become like John the Baptizer and like those who responded faithfully to his message. May we declare the possibility of salvation through the forgiveness of sins through the Son of God, and may we ourselves adopt a posture of repentance as we wait for the return of our Lord, echoing the words of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

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