John the Baptist wore a coat made of camel hair with a big raw hide belt, crunched locusts with honey for dinner, and offended the religious folk in town by calling them, “a brood of snakes.”

Not the way to win friends and influence enemies.

streetpreacherToday, John the Baptist, would might wear a shabby overcoat, eat Timbits and stand in Nathan Phillips Square with a sign proclaiming, “Repent, the End of the World is Near!” and offend nice people with his smelly clothes and intimidating demeanour.

What do street preachers have to do with the holiday season?

The message of Christmas would be incomplete without a call to repentance. The song of the angels to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased,” is incomplete without John’s call, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Repentance is a hard word at Christmas but it is a necessary word because repentance is the only way from sin to salvation. Jesus came to bring the light of salvation into a dark world of sin.

John the Baptist’s call to repentance prepares the way for Jesus’ message of salvation. So, repentance is as much a part of the Christmas story as are the angels and the star.