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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, December 18, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 3:1–6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” (NRSV)

Isn’t it interesting that God speaks to a prophet who is out in the wilderness? The quote is taken from Isaiah 40:3–5, and it was originally addressed to the people in exile in Babylon, giving them assurance that God would save them and return them to their homes. “Prepare the way of the Lord,” and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” God would take them home one day—that was the promise.

Although most of us are not in physical exile, sometimes we may feel that we are in a spiritual exile. (I take a moment to remember and pray for our brothers and sisters who are in physical exile, too.)

Sometimes we may feel that we are in an emotional wilderness—feeling lost or afraid, or feeling hungry for love or peace or comfort. This can be a time when we feel God’s presence the strongest because we metaphorically throw ourselves at God’s feet. There is something in that act of desperate need for grace that actually opens us up to feel God’s presence. Reorienting ourselves toward God is actually what the word repentance means in the original Greek word, metanoia. Reorienting ourselves.

Sometimes when I introduce the time of confession in worship, I like to remind us all that confession is the beginning of healing or that in confession we cooperate with God in our own transformation and forgiveness. To me that is a very powerful way to think about repentance. Repentance is to turn to God, to open ourselves to healing, to cooperate in our own forgiveness.

Repentance is to let God love us, to trust that love, to believe it, to turn toward it again and again. As we prepare for the arrival of the Christ child this season, let’s turn toward God with our whole hearts.

Dear God, help me to turn toward you and open my deepest and truest self to you. Let me cooperate with your love, forgiveness, and grace for me. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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