December 4 – Repent

By: Rev. Dr. Renee C. Jackson, Minister for Ministerial Formation, MESA Team, UCC National

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way for the Holy One, make these paths straight'" (from Matthew 3:1-12).


Abolition…means the elimination of coercive systems of retribution, vengeance, containment, and control,
and the blossoming of systems that support us to live healthy, well, self-determined lives…
There are opportunities for us to create new ways of relating to each other,
new ways of caring for one another,
new ways of managing life together.
We’ll need to operate from an ethic of collective care rather than individualism…
We’ll need to recognize and address
systems of harm
even while we work to alleviate their harmful impacts on individuals.
– Rachel Herzig

The liturgical season of Advent calls us to a time of preparation for the coming of God’s realm. Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, anticipation, and longing for redemption from personal guilt and sin, but also from the systemic evil of the world. Our siblings who endure under the tyranny of injustice yearn for deliverance with hope that God’s ear is open to their cries. Advent invites us to lean into an abolition promise of a new world of truth and righteousness for people and all of creation.

While Advent’s spirit of expectation gives rise to a sense of joy as we await God’s promise, there are also clarion calls to repentance. We dare not disregard the messages of the Old Testament prophet Malachi, nor the New Testament prophet John the Baptist, robotically jumping from one celebration to another to avoid the discomfort of the intervening message. Malachi says to us, “The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears so those who hear can prepare, through repentance, for “the day of the Lord,” God’s impending judgment. We, like John, live in convoluted political times. There are many systems of harm to recognize and address.  God’s dream of freedom calls us to repent of our complacency with systems of injustice and act purposefully on the truth of our interconnectedness with all who suffer. This is how we prepare the way of the Lord.


Sovereign One, massage our hearts with empathy
for our siblings throughout our communities and the world.
Holy Spirit, infuse us with holy fire in our bones
that our mouths might declare your truth,
and our feet march to the drumbeat of justice.
Hear us as we repent our complicity and our complacency with systems that harm,
and strengthen our hands to lift the downtrodden, the lonely, the outcast, and the forgotten,
so that your new realm of freedom may come.
May it be so, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Artwork: “Repent” by Yohana Junker (discover more at:


Abolition is both a practical organizing tool and a long-term goal. We understand that the root causes of harm are societal inequalities, racism, sexism, transphobia, poverty, and lack of access to resources…Our people are safe when their needs are met. - Woods Ervin

Take Action

Practice Repentance

  • Study: Open you heart to Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s description of the relationships between racism, capitalism and systems of incarceration and punishment and thus, the character of abolition and solidarity in Geographies of Racial Capitalism.
  • Pray: Cut a short piece of rope, string, yarn or twine.  Hold it and take a few moments to think about a system you are complicit in that causes harm.  Tie a knot in the rope to embody your recognition of this complicity.  Carry this knot with you for a few days.  Whenever you feel it, remember your connection to this harmful system.  When you are ready, offer a prayer of repentance (here’s a powerful example).  Make one commitment to unraveling your complicity and untie your knot.  Notice how this untying makes you feel.
Learn more about Racial Capitalism

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