Sunday, December 1, 2013

advent reflection 2013.1

the road home
While driving this week to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I listened to a sermon from Church of the Resurrection in DC.  Preaching on Mark 1, Matthew Mason spoke of repentance as a turning in allegiance to Christ the King.  For me it was a fitting beginning to the season of Advent.

Beginnings
As we anticipate the coming of Christ, it is good to remember how Mark prepares his readers to receive the gospel of Christ:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 
 “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
 who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
 make his paths straight,’”  
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [...]
 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:1-4,14-15)
Why start this way?  This prophecy is a proclamation of a coming King, a King who is God himself.  As a messenger running before a victorious king, so John came to tell God's people the good news that their king had come.

It is good to reflect on this good news during Advent, and to prepare the way in our lives.

Turnings
This repentance is a turning in more ways than one.  It is, in the sense above, a turn in allegiance.  If there was any previous sovereign, now that king must be turned away from, for now the true King of all kings has come.

It also involves a turning of the heart and mind.  We must turn from those things that once captivated, that held our love or fear or allegiance.  Turning, we hope to find ourselves facing Christ.

Returnings
Each year I am grateful for this season of repentance and preparation.  For me this year it looks to be one in which I reflect upon my allegiance.  Am I living like the King has come?  Do I hope for his return?

I pray that God would graciously help to turn me.  Where I have false allegiance, that he would have mercy.  Where I need to change, that he would help to bring it about.

I return to the old favourite hymn sung in church this morning:
Come, thou long-expected Jesus...
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring. 

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