I took this picture outside the church in Santo Domingo.  The size of the poinsettia was amazing. They are called Flores de Noche Buena; “Flowers of the Holy Night.   I remember the story that a young peasant girl had bought a handful of weeds to lay in the manger scene on Christmas in a Mexican church, because she had nothing else to offer.  They turned into poinsettias.  The story was supposed to show that even the smallest gift is acceptable to God.  According to the scriptures the great gift is repentance.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51).  Without repentance no gift is acceptable.  Luther was spot on when he said that even the good gifts that we offer are tainted and sinful and he was constantly pointing out that we can even turn good thoughts and desire and action into sinful ones.

Rev Matthew Harrison on his blog “Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison” has this excerpt for the Letters of Hermann Sasse.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. REPENT and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). So began the preaching of Jesus. “REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). So began the preaching of the apostles at Pentecost. “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, in saying ‘REPENT etc.’ meant the whole life of he faithful to be an act of repentance.” So began the Reformation of the Church. With the mighty call to repentance has every new era in the history of the Church began, as the entire history of the Church, its mission, its advancement in the world, as far as they are real mission and true advancement, may be described as the history of  a great repentance.