Sunday, December 6, 2009

The "R" word


Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent - the one on which we read about John the Baptist crying out in the desert, calling upon all who will listen to "prepare the way" for the coming of the one whose sandals he says he is unfit to untie. There is so much baggage attached to that "r" word that John the Baptist uses today - you know the one -  "repent"....My friend Ellie posted this beautiful section from a sermon she found on repentance:

"Repentance is not the same as remorse or regret. It is not listing all the ways things could have gone differently. It is not wishing you were a better person, that some things had never happened, that bad things wouldn’t keep happening to you. It’s not feeling guilty or ashamed. It’s not feeling afraid. It’s not something that leaves us stuck, or standing still, or spinning in circles, going nowhere. Repentance is about movement, letting yourself be grasped by God, getting new bearings, and relying on God for directions. The new life that follows repentance, the new direction that comes with a fresh start is what John was proclaiming in the wilderness. John’s message is a call to action: repent, turn around, accept help. God is coming to meet you on a road in the wilderness."  The Rev. Amy E. Richter

So, about that photo. This young man is his own version of John the Baptist, isn't he? Wandering in what he considers to be the desert, a university campus, where he is met by bemused students who look like they might soon turn on him.   Is he bringing the good news of Christ or news of coming judgment based on his own version of the top 20 one way tickets to hell?

 According to his sign, I am doomed.  It would be very easy for me to ridicule this man because my beliefs are so different from his.  But I am called to love him.  He may have a completely different view of Christ than mine but this is what my Advent journey is about.  It's about moving away from my own prideful belief that I have more truth than this man.  It's about moving toward Bethlehem and the birth of the one who brings new life. 

May the cleansing of the fresh start that John's message proclaims this day continue to give us the gifts of new bearings and new directions. 

6 comments:

Rebekah said...

YEAH! FREEDOM from the slavery of self!

Thank you, Roberta!

Sweet freedom...

Jayne said...

I look at his sign and it makes me sad. Not angry, just sad...

Ellie Finlay said...

Oh, my. According to that poor fellow, I qualify for hell on quite a few grounds.

Oh well: "If in heaven we don't meet, hand in hand we'll stand the heat!"

Lauralew said...

I just hate for people to think that the God I worship is such a monster.

ROBERTA said...

Lauralew,
I hear you & I struggle with that same thought even though I realize that I'm not in charge of God's reputation :)

My question continues to be "how do I love this man" when his statements are so poisonous. This is my area of deepest need this Advent. Showing compassion towards those whom i deem unlovable. Sigh...

Brad said...

Roberta, one of your best! I enlarged the pic and read the sign. My, my, that fellow is full of judgmental hatred and prejudice. And yes, we, like Jesus, love him. But we can hate the evil that he is doing and stand against it, in our own ways, in our own places.

I liked the sermon excerpt, but maybe it would have been even better if the sermon writer had noted that the New Testament word translated "repent" actually means "change or redirect your mind."

You, and the sermon, have it right -change direction and focus! No place for guilt or remorse! By the way, according to the sign, I've earned myself at least six trips to hell. I wonder if they are concurrent or sequential? 8-)


Love. Brad (the feminist Obama voter democrat friend of homosexuals etc. etc. etc.)