by Roger Oliver
Luke 3:1-18 “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” vs. 7-8
Luke 3:1-18 Luke 3:7-8. (As the ministry of John the Baptist begins, John preaches repentance.) “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not say that you are children of Abraham: for I say unto you, that God is able to raise up children unto Abraham from these stones.”
Wow! I have to admit that is not my typical concept of an Advent Devotion passage and verse. But let’s explore the significance of Advent. By definition, Advent is preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ; and Advent is the beginning of the church year.
Surely, Baby Jesus is more than a sweet little Baby for us to be excited about. Yes, we prepare for his birth, but more important we prepare for his ultimate purpose for His humanly presence on earth. And, at Christmas we welcome and celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus and recognize his birthday represents the beginning of our salvation through Christ.
But, how often do we think of repentance as an element of Christmas preparation?
In our “focused on individual rights” society, who takes ownership of his/her faults (none is perfect, no not one) and repents as part of their Advent process? Recognizing our imperfections, Pastor Clark usually begins the announcements before worship services by stating we at All Saints emphasize participation not perfection. Participation in God’s Grace, God’s love and God’s peace.
So as we do the decorating of the tree, the house, etc.; write our Christmas cards; do the baking and house cleaning and do our Christmas shopping in anticipation of the excitement at Christmas; it certainly does seem appropriate to reflect upon our imperfect relationships with God and our fellow man. The last few verses in this passage (verses11 – 18) offer additional insight into how God would like each of us to treat our fellow man, in other words our relationships with each other. I would summarize these versus with the words sharing, honesty, integrity and fairness.
Our salvation was definitely not free for Christ, but for us it is free. However, without our self-examination and repentance, how can we possibly assign any value to Christ’s sacrifice for us? If his sacrifice has no value, of what value is Christmas, His birth(day)?
Although Advent has always meant preparing my heart for Christ’s coming, I never really considered repentance key to that process. Until now!
God, this is the day you have made.
Come now Lord Jesus, so I may rejoice and be glad in it.
Come now Lord Jesus, so I may surrender to you my agenda and to-do list.
Come now Lord Jesus, so I may receive today your love from the ones you have blessed to give it to me.
Come now Lord Jesus, so I may share today your love with the ones you have blessed me to give it to.
Come now Lord Jesus, so I, all people, and all creation may be awake and ready for the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ, and the glorious end of days.