Advent was originally a penitential season, not a period of pre-Christmas frenzied shopping. Penitence still predominates in the eastern churches. Mike Marsh, Episcopal priest and rector of St Phillip's in Uvalde, Texas, has a take on repentance that goes beyond breast-beating and wallowing in guilt. It appeared recently on his always-interesting site Interrupting the Silence.
- is as much or more about our heart as it is about our actions.
- is returning our gaze to God.
- is changing the direction of our life in order to face, see, and receive our coming salvation.
- is turning our life around.
- is to choose a new life.
- is not just about changing behavior--it is a change of mind, a change in direction, a change in attitude, a change in our way of being.
- is the recognition that our self-sufficiency is inadequate.
- is a search for life which is realized in personal communication with God.
- is not simply about improvement in behavior or even being perfect, a psychological feeling, or strengthening our will. It is, rather, a change in our mode of existence by which we cease to trust in our own individuality.
- is not individual feats or works of merit but a cry of trust and love from the depths of our abyss.
- is our true Christmas preparation.
- is how we cooperate with God in our own salvation.
- is refusing to continue to settle for less than what God is offering.
- manifests our desire for God.
- is our response to God's desire for us.