What does repent mean? The Chambers dictionary defines it as ‘to regret, be sorry for, or wish to have been otherwise, what one has done or left undone; to change from past evil or misconduct; to feel contrition; to sorrow.’ I have heard it taught in church that repentance should be our response when realising that we have sinned ie we have fallen short of God’s standards. It is often used to promote acceptable behaviour, and implicitly, acceptance in the church and by God.
Interestingly, when I studied the word repentance, I found it was in accord with this. The Greek word is metanoia. Noia is from the word nous meaning the mind, not actions. Metanoia means to change, enlarge or go beyond your mind, in other words to see something differently, and ultimately to change our paradigm or world view. In current spiritual language it would mean to change our consciousness. Of course seeing something differently often does lead to a change in behaviour but this is not the primary meaning.


As well as celebrating the solstices and equinoxes, our Celtic ancestors celebrated the cross quarter days which are the days that lie half way between and represented times of season change.. These were primarily agricultural festivals, but as they were occasions when the community gathered together they were also times of sacred ritual and social activities.


Jesus spoke a lot about the Kingdom or Realm of God, a term which from the Aramaic could be translated as the Reign of Unity; it is recognised as his main message. It is clear from his teachings that this state of being is already present now, and within us (Luke 17.21), and it is also a future realisation (Your kingdom come Luke 11.2). This realm is where love, peace and justice for all reign. It has often been interpreted by the church as a requisite for good behaviour. But it is the other way around – entering into this God-filled realm changes and enables us. And more than that, it is a place of unity, oneness and wholeness – with God, with each other, with creation. Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17.20-23 is: ‘that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world will believe you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’


Light is not only the brightness of day but, for the last 3,000 or so years, a symbol of goodness and of Spirit or God. Similarly darkness is now cast as anything inimical to Spirit and to ourselves. The danger of this is that we lose our natural balance, and our lives don’t honour the importance of the dark.


There is a Rosh Hashanah blessing for the Jewish New Year in September that I like to use with my family and any group I am with. You give each person a slice of apple dipped in honey and say ‘May it be the Lord’s will to renew for you a year that is good and sweet’. I told my eleven year old granddaughter that we would be doing this as a blessing from God. She said ‘male or female?’ Interesting question. I said ‘both or neither’.