In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said:
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” ’
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Hymn - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
O come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From every foe deliver them
That trust your mighty power to save;
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!
Repentance and good news - those are words which for us don’t usually go together, at least not at first sight. When we think of repentance, we normally think of an understanding shaped by centuries of bad preaching, designed to induce guilt and make us feel bad about ourselves. Not much good news here! And yet John preached repentance, and the people came flocking out to hear him. In its original Biblical meaning, repentance is not so much about guilt, as about a renewal of our thinking, a new way of looking at our lives and relationships and the world around. John’s call to repent is a call to become the change we want to see in the world, to live our vision with more integrity in our daily lives.