The concept of repentance occurs in most faiths and pops up at different times, even in civil society! The latter does not always use the term ‘repentance’ but many are calling for our Parliament and its members to amend their ways and to make their paths straight. Similar calls emerged from Archbishop Coleridge this week to the Leaders of our church following the Bishops Conference in Sydney.
Repentance comes up in Matthew’s account of John the Baptist’s explosive entry into the public life of Palestine. Calling the leaders (scribes and Pharisees) a “brood of Vipers” does lay something on the line. He refuses to baptise them, for he judges they are not willing to repent, at least on John’s terms.
Matthew tell us that John’s call for repentance is to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and he does so in the Biblical sense. This means that for him, and us, repentance involves a willingness to turn one’s life around in the sense of a complete reorientation. For some, like St Paul, that turn around was almost instantaneous. For others, it is a lifetime’s work. For us, we commit to try again this Advent “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven”.
Tensions arise in Advent. As I write, it is a glorious early summer day in Bendigo. The air is warm, the sky a brilliant blue, just a little breeze and the roses are magnificent. Yet we are called to eagerly await the coming (in glory) of Jesus. Maybe we need to remember that He has come in the flesh and our immediate need is to make a little more room in our lives to appreciate His presence.