Matthew 3:1-2  In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

John the Baptist was a strange man, he ate locusts, lived in the woods and never visited the local barber. He has a really good message to give to us, but it gets buried, mostly in the

interpretations that have been given to the word Repent. Over the centuries this passage has been understood as: We are all unredeemed, unrepentant sinners, whom God cannot love or forgive and at the end of our earthly lives we find ourselves in the eternal burn pit.  But there is another understanding of this verse. The word ‘repent’ in Greek means to change. This scripture asks us to acknowledge what we have done wrong. It assumes that we are capable of this.  John is giving us a choice in this passage. He asks us to change our ways because Jesus, who embodies the kingdom of heaven, is coming near. Now is our chance to make a change in our own lives, to draw ourselves closer to the savior and what he represents for us, the kingdom of heaven. Not flames but love, not fear, but forgiveness.

Loving God, help us to remember that first and foremost, you are a loving God and so is your son, Jesus.