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Friday, December 04, 2009

Advent Preparations

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[December 04, 2009]   -- "John the Baptist said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers!  Who warned you of the wrath to come?  Bear fruits worthy of repentance."
-Luke 3: 7-8

John the Baptist was the final prophet sent by God to the people of Israel and his sole purpose was to prepare them for the coming of Christ.  In this spirit, John is always a part of Advent preparations for Christians as we prepare once more for Christ's Christmas arrival.  But his message is not necessarily in tune with our culturally recognized "spirit of Christmas."  John's message is one of repentance.  To repent literally means to turn around.  It means to stop doing that which is separating us from God.  See, not exactly warm and fuzzy.  But nonetheless it is vital to our preparations, especially in our current culture.  One thing about Christmas these days is the overwhelming urge by many of us to convey a spirit of perfection; my family is perfect, my celebration is perfect; etc...You know what I am talking about.  We feel the need to be and look perfect this time of year.

But John is reminding us that we are far from perfect, that all of us need to repent, to stop doing those things that are wrong and separating us from God.  But why should we think about this now?  I mean, why get so gloomy during this Christmas season.  Shouldn't we all try to put our best foot forward this time of year?  No!  No, we should remember that the reason Christ came the first time and the reason he will come again is because we are all far from perfect.  Christ came because we were lost and in so many ways we are still lost; we stumble around this world doing the best we can and sometimes less, and we need him.  We celebrate Christmas not because the story is cute but because we need that child in our lives; we are nowhere without him.  So to prepare we need to repent and we need to recognize the link between our failings and Christ's birth.  He came to save us because we can't save ourselves. 

Prayer:  Holy God, I repent of my sins before you.  Forgive me for that which I have done and for that which I have left undone.  Help me during this time of advent to live a life worthy of repentance.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

[text from file received by Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]


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