Tag Archives: repentance

Prayer, In Advent

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, December 19, 2018

o come Emmanuel

Prayer, In Advent

Advent lasts for quite a while. Almost a whole month. Why does Advent last for such a long time? Why can’t Christmas hurry up and arrive, already?

This waiting-period reminds me of one of the leading cast of characters in Advent preparations, John the Baptist. What does John the Baptist have to do with Christmas, anyhow?

John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, does not fit into your typical Nativity scene. Usually, in most drawings or figures of the Nativity, there are a usual cast of characters. Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, kings, animals, and a manger. John the Baptist just does not fit in here. Where does he fit? With his rough clothing, different kind of diet, and hollering about repentance, he will not easily fit onto a Christmas card, either.

Yet, John the Baptist is featured in the Advent readings, for several weeks. “But the schedule for children’s pageants and choir Sundays often allows us to avoid him, and it is understandable that few of us complain.” [1]  However, John the Baptist is a featured part of the whole reason and purpose behind Advent. Advent is all about repentance. And waiting.

True, the crowded calendar in December often provides little room for repentance and devotion that is strongly suggested for Advent. What gives with this hurry-scurry, rush-rush attitude which now seems to be part and parcel of the holidays? It’s either that, or an extra dose of guilt unloaded on those who are also trying to have Advent devotions on top of following a full calendar of holiday dates.

Dear Lord, help me steer through all of this extraneous stuff and find the expectation and anticipation of Advent. Lead me to discover anew the great worth and value of John the Baptist, and his important message of repentance. Thank You for Your patience and understanding for the many people who are striving to get closer to you—including me. It’s in the name of Jesus, God-with-us, we pray, amen.


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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] (This devotional by the Rev. John Thomas appeared in the Wednesday, Dec. 19th edition of the online Advent calendar featured by Epiphany UCC Church, Chicago, Illinois. Advent 2018)

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 27, 2017

joy in sand

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Richard Foster chose to write about (and include excerpts from) both Faber and John Henry Newman. They both were ordained as Anglican clergymen, and both were influenced to turn to Roman Catholicism.

During the time of two tours of the European Continent in the 1840’s, Faber was drawn to Catholicism by its rites and devotions. He and Newman were received into the Catholic church. Increasingly devotional in nature, Faber founded a religious community the following year. Newman made Faber the superior of a London community. Faber oversaw the founding of many good works and outreaches, and became known as a spiritual leader, writer and confessor.

This excerpt comes from “The Creator and Creature.”

“This is, in fact, [man’s] true blessedness—to be ever more and more enclosed in the hand of God who made him. The Creator’s hand is the creature’s home.” [1] This pair of sentences is so representative of this excerpt. Faber delights to speak of the glories of the Creation, the wonders of the Creator, and our joy (the creatures’ joy, that is) in our living in this wondrous Creation.

So far as the creature is concerned, Faber explains that the creatures are full of fear, true. Yet, they are also made up of “…humility, of prayer, of repentance, and above all, of love…so much man, as a creature, conduct himself as such, and do those virtuous actions, which are chiefly virtues because they are becoming to him and adapted to his condition.” [2]

Faber’s view of humanity is hopeful and humble. (So interesting to me, personally, with a basically Reformed view of humanity.) Yet, this view of Faber’s jives with the Westminster Catechism’s first question: what is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I suspect Faber would agree with that question and answer, in great part.

In his perception of humans as creatures, they love and obey and readily admit the sovereignty of God the Creator. As I am encouraged to meditate on the glories of the Creator God, I can also thank our Lord Jesus for His intercession for me and for His forgiveness of all my sins. Thank You, thank You, Jesus!



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 354.

[2] Ibid, 355.

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 21, 2015

repentance a gift from God

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Repentance is the word for today. Repent! Reminds me of seeing stern, dour-faced street preachers with bullhorns, standing on street corners, crying, “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

But, that’s not quite what our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, had in mind for today. Actually, it’s not precisely what I think Jesus had in mind, either, in the verses that accompany this short chapter in the book The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray: Mark 1:14-15. Moreover, this is from the passage I am considering and praying over, from which I will deliver a sermon on Sunday.

Yes, the Hebrew word “repent” (or, shuv) means to turn around, or make a 180-degree turn. It’s like I am going the wrong direction, so I make a u-turn. Go the right direction, instead. And Mark was Jewish; so was Peter, his friend and mentor, and presumably the source for most of the material in Mark.

Except, the Gospel of Mark was written in Greek. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia. This word has a slightly different focus, or vector. Yes, the simple definition is “change one’s mind.” However, when expanded, this word can also mean changing one’s behavior, reorienting to new insights and understandings, framing new objectives and making new goals.

I am greatly relieved to hear this! This means that I do not need to grovel and crawl in the dust. Like a worm. (From somewhere back in my memory, a long time ago, I am remembering a state called by some pastor “Christian Worm-ism.” Pretty descriptive, if you ask me!)

So, I am reorienting myself, from the inside out. What a positive thing this can be! Not negative, laden with guilt and shame. (Especially shame! We have recently talked about both of these, yesterday and the day before.)

Reminder to self: God does not want to make me feel small or insignificant or guilty or especially shame-filled. No! But I know who does—sin, the devil, or Satan, or evil tendencies or wicked spirits. Whatever or however you may want to describe those negative feelings and emotions and urges that are not of God. Instead, we can be positive, and look forward to new opportunities.

Yes, we are angry and sad that we messed up. Yes, we can feel hesitant, even shy of going forward in life. But we can have confidence that—with God’s help and support—we will go forward with God at our sides.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.