During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Repentance.
The gospel of Mark begins with “The Proclamation of John the Baptist.” Mark begins straight away with the work and preparation of John the Baptist, leaving no doubt of his ministry, but also of the ministry of the one to come. In Mark 1:1-8, we read:
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,”’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
What does it mean to repent? Rolf Jacobsen defines repentance as “The change in a person’s behavior that follows recognition of having sinned and immediately precedes further sinning.”
There is a lot of biblical nuance in this given the different words from the Greek and Hebrew translated as repentance. To put it simply though, the concept of repentance connotes: changing one’s mind, turning around, or returning. For me, the focus on change is key to repentance. This isn’t a one-time thing either. Like some pastors have said, “the entire life of the believer is one of repentance.”
I appreciate the importance of confession and forgiveness, because it gives me room to daily and weekly contemplate that which I have done in haste, without thinking, or without reflecting on how what I do (and don’t do) affects God and others. Things that I have repented have included: not showing as wide a love at times as I should to my family and loved ones; being blinded by my own ideas and perceptions and seemingly closed off to other perspectives; and not doing more to actively show neighbor love through working for reconciliation and justice in my own communities and contexts. Repenting these things forces me to change, which I believe is a good thing.
So, what about you, how do you repent, or what do you repent?
 Rolf A. Jacobson, ed., Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 2008), 144.
 Ibid., 145.
Image Credit: Agnus Day for Mark 1:1-8