By Brooke Holt
“Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” – Book of Common Prayer, Year B, The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent
Have you ever considered that there is great joy in repentance? So often we consider confessing our sins to be an unpleasant experience. Seeing the ways in which we fail and fall short can never be good, can it? It can when it leads to healing, forgiveness, and restoration. Think about this in terms of an earthly relationship. Say you are out of sorts with your spouse or your child. There is great pain in the conflict and resulting separation. Life just doesn’t feel quite right.
However, when you make the time to sit down and to work through the conflict, to listen to one another and to work through the process of reconciliation, there is great joy. Sometimes there is even greater intimacy in the newly restored relationship. If that is true for our earthly relationships, wouldn’t it be true for our relationship with the heavenly Father?
Our Creator knows us completely. I love Psalm 139 and the description of his intricate work in our creation. Beyond our Creator, he is also our sustainer—the one who is always present, always working on our behalf, always interceding for us. The Lord sees our every wound and understands why we do the things we do. In knowing us and understanding us, he is so eager to love us right where we are, and then lead us into his abundant life.
What we often fail to consider is that God’s ways are always the best ways. As Isaiah wrote, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). When the Lord calls you to repentance and a turning from your sin, it is not a punishment but an invitation to live according to his higher way.
God’s ways are steadfast and always true. He calls his children to live in obedience to him, to love him with all their being, to love one another, and to let his light shine in us and through us. Repentance allows for you to come fully back to him, back to a reconciliation with the one who knows you and loves you. That reconciliation allows you to experience the joy of relationship with the Lord and the joy of fulfilling the calling he has on your life. There is truly nothing more joyful than that!
How can you embrace the joy of repentance this Advent season? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Most people think of Advent as a warm-up to Christmas, but actually, it’s the other way around. Christmas is a preview of Advent! Through the devotional readings in Prepare the Way, we invite you to celebrate Advent again. For 28 days, join with St. Paul, King David the Psalmist, Zechariah, Gabriel, Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist, along with the crowds who flocked to him as they rejoiced in the good news of Christmas, and then look beyond it for the holiday that never ends!
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