Summary: Theme is Repentance.... illustration from Shel Silverstein.... taking the garbage out.... John calls us to not "regret" but to take the garbage out of our lives.

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In Jesus Holy Name December 5, 2010

Text Matthew 3:1-2,5-6 Advent I–Redeemer Lutheran

“Christmas Is Coming – Are You Ready?”

This past week Colleen was having several blood tests and checkups as part of her requirements for the upcoming mission trip. She ran into one of her doctors who had recently been at the same luncheon that she had attended. This recognition initiated a brief conversation.

The doctor noted that his fellow physicians had told him to slow down a bit. He was spending too much time at the hospital and on call. It was affecting his health. So he mentioned that a reoccurring story he had heard years ago kept playing through his mind.

As the story goes a grandmother and her granddaughter were taking an afternoon walk. It was a walk they took often. The granddaughter said, “Grandma, can I ask you a question?” The answer was: “Of course.” “Grandma, how come you spend so much time reading the bible?” To which the grandmother responded: “I’m cramming for my final exam.”

The doctor then said to Colleen: “I’m doing a lot more reading these days. Getting ready for the final exam.”

There is a final exam coming for all of us. Are you prepared?

This question brings us the River Jordan and a man named John. He was challenging people to be “prepared for the coming of the Messiah.”

All four Gospels tell us that the word of god came to John who began to preach “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Repentance.

Repentance! Now that could be the problem. John calls out. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance is hard because our favorite phrase is not “I’m sorry”. But “It’s not my fault.”

Over Thanksgiving week end the grand kids dropped by the house for a few hours. In the process of playing, one grandchild bumped the other. It was a hard bump, maybe even a push. But she has been taught well and immediately said, “I’m sorry.”

The words were correct….but did she really mean them? Repentance is not regret! Well, that’s not the kind of pretend repentance John was preaching. John the Baptizer was not calling for “half-hearted” repentance. Many people feel regret over past bad behavior… but repentance is different. John was not speaking about God giving us a tune up, an oil change, a rotation of our tires.”

John knew if people were going to be ready for the coming of the Messiah, they would have to admit they were in need of a Savior. Before they would admit they needed a Savior they would have to confess they were sinners and that kind of confession only comes when the Holy Spirit gives someone a repentant heart.

The poet Shel Silverstein wrote a rather humorous poem called: “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out!” Let me share it with you.

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

Would not take the garbage out!

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