(Adults, the Gospel for this Sunday talks about repentance in the sense of turning from sin which our 3-6-year olds are not needing yet. However, the deeper reality, the reason why we repent is the essential point they need to hear, I think.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about John the Baptist who is a cousin of Jesus. John the Baptist prepares the people of Israel for Jesus who comes. Jesus comes to speak about the Kingdom of God in a way no one has ever spoken before. In Advent, we hear John the Baptist preparing the people when we are also preparing—preparing to celebrate the feast of the Light of God coming into the world.
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come near.”
Repent, John the Baptist says. What does repent mean?
Repent means to turn around. Why does John the Baptist want us to turn around?
“Repent, for the Kingdom of God has come near.”
The Kingdom of God, has come near. If we turn around, will we see the Kingdom of God?
If the Kingdom of God has come near, why can we not see it? Where is it? The Kingdom of God seems to be hidden. Perhaps we need to know what we are looking for.
Jesus tells us lots of parables—little stories—about the Kingdom of God so that we can know it. Here is one parable:
When we make bread or pizza dough, we put yeast into water. Yeast is a teeny tiny living thing. It gets mixed into all that flour to make dough.
Then we put the dough aside to rest. If we look at the dough, we cannot see the yeast. It is hidden, like the Kingdom of God. Even if we repent, even if we turn around, we cannot see the yeast.
But deep inside the dough, what happens? The yeast busily grows. It makes gas, and the gas expands, and the dough rises. It gets bigger and bigger! And then the dough gets baked into something delicious to eat, something that can feed us.
Does the Kingdom of God—the hidden kingdom—grow and grow all around us, making something so special, something that can feed us? This week in our prayer, we can ask God about this.
And we can also ask, why has the Kingdom of God come near to us? Why does God want to be near to us? Why?
The Kingdom of God might be hidden, but it seems like God wants to be found. Why else would John the Baptist say, "Repent! Turn around!"?