Advent 2 is all about the prophets and their call to re-turn toward God. The language of repentance has been given so much extra baggage over the years, it a wonder we have anyone in the church at all these days. I mean, I get that one must understand their sinfulness and the need for a savior, but to hear that every Sunday, or worse, everyday, well that's just emotionally damaging. What happened to the language of 2nd Peter? Why don't we remember that though we are sinners we are still God's beloved. His deepest desire is for us to re-turn and return to right relationship with him. The message of repentance isn't one of doom and gloom. Instead, it is one of the joy of community restored.
"Therefore, beloved... strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish" The process of repentance and sanctification is certainly not an easy one. It requires much in the way of sacrifice. It requires one give up the selfish desires of the old way to pursue God's desires, but it is not sacrifice without reward. It is not emotional abuse for the sake of emotional abuse. And the prophets who call us to that repentance, well there job is equal parts "disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed." As preachers, we should not forget one or the other.