The Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near
By Karin Peter of Olympia, WA, USA
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.’” —Matthew 3:1–3 NRSV
I recently drove to a nearby city using a route I had not traveled in a while. I was amazed to discover the travel time had been reduced since I had come this way last. After a few miles, I understood why. There had been extensive roadwork done to improve the highway and intersections. Several crossroads had been rerouted to avoid congestion, and what had been a two-lane stretch of hills and curves was now a straight and level highway.
To repent is to stop what one is doing and go a new way. This new way often means straightening out some rough patches and learning some new skills to navigate confusing crossroads better. As a disciple, I depend on God’s gracious spirit to be with me as I stop, repent, and go this new way. I also depend on the love and grace of my faith community to provide counsel and companionship in this new way.
As we travel through this Advent season may we each look ahead and see where we might need to adjust our route. In this time of preparation may we have the humility to repent of our wrongdoings, to reconcile strained relationships, to refocus on what matters most, and to embark on a new way. Let us travel the pathways of discipleship and invitation with joy and expectation. And together may we prepare for the coming of the Light of the World.
Advent Prayer Phrase
Anticipation deepens within.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Spend a few moments dwelling in God’s presence. Pay attention to where your heart feels drawn into prayer. What words, images, or themes in this story lead you to reflect on your own faith journey? What is God’s invitation to you this day?