Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the beginning. . .

As we are poised on a new adventure to be known as 2014, I would like to pause for a moment, not so much to reflect on the year just passed, but to look ahead at the upcoming twelve months.

I would like to take a look the prospects for this next year through the lens of what I consider to be one of the most beautiful, poetic and thought provoking passages in all of Scripture.  It is taken from the opening of Saint John's Gospel and sums up succinctly and reverently the core belief of all who purport to follow Jesus Christ.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God, all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."  (Jn 1:1-5)

In this simple, yet most profound statement, we find our identity as Christians.  We find our hope as believers and followers of Christ Jesus.  For in this statement it is revealed exactly Who we believe and the marvel that we have celebrated during these last few days--Christmas.  Namely, that God condescended to become man in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man.  It is through this event which we have come to call the Incarnation, that our salvation is ushered in to the world.  
We know that God is God because only God could do what He did in the way He did it!  God became a part of His very creation.  Through Jesus, He became one of us, living as we live, possessing the same desires, the same disappointments, the same hopes and dreams that we all have.  One of the most amazing things about this fact is that in doing so, God lost none of His identity.  He did not suddenly lose half of Himself because His Son became man.  He retained His identity and, as a matter of fact, through Jesus Christ, we have come to know the Father ever more intimately.

The fact that the Word, Jesus Christ, became man, gives us the right to divine hope. This is not mere human hope, finite and mortal.  We know that the promises of God, the promise of eternal life and peace are true because God promised us that He would send to us, in due time, a Savior at the very moment that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.  (cf Gen 3: 14-15)

Mankind is capable of creating.  Look around and you will see the results of the creative nature of the human race.  However, it is impossible for one of us to become a part of the things we create.  For instance, if we wanted, we could not become a part of a bridge.  Now I know this sounds far-fetched, but, really, is this any more far-fetched than God becoming man?  If we were to become a part of a bridge, we would lose that which gives us our humanity and we would be drastically changed.  With God, this is not so.  In becoming Christ, the Son of God, the Father is not diminished, but enhanced.  It is through Christ that we enter into a much deeper relationship with the Father precisely because it is through Jesus that the Father is more fully revealed.

What does all of this have to do with the New Year upon whose doorstep we now find ourselves?  Plenty!

We live in a world of agonizing loneliness and darkness.  It surrounds us and often threatens to overwhelm us and engulf us.  We become embroiled in the things of this world, ending up addicted to a world of empty promises that come in the form of bright, sparkling objects such as wealth, power, and influence, but which, in fact, offer only a shallow moment of what our human nature thinks it craves.  We are so prone to follow our passions unchecked that we often find ourselves in places we would have never thought we would go in an instant.

To know that God loves us so very much, so much so that He became one of us, walked the earth teaching us and revealing Himself to us, should be all we need for a life of prosperity and peace that was meant for us "in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth."  (Gen 1:1)  For the hope and joy of the love of God is what we were created for in the first place.  We lost that through sin, but, through the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ on the Cross, His glorious Resurrection from the dead, we retain the right to that inheritance.  It is ours because of the love of an all merciful and forgiving God.  And that mercy and forgiveness is for all of us.

Therefore, as we stand at the beginning of a new year, let us not for one minute forget this hope and peace that is ours because of what has been done for us in the name and act of love.  We should not only think of "in the beginning" at the start of this new year, but at the start of each and every day.  Every morning represents our resurrection from a slumber of the previous day's labors and the opportunity for new growth and service of the God Who has no beginning and no end.

May God's peace and joy and love be yours at the start of this new year and at the start of every day whether that day brings sadness or joy.  Every day is a gift from God to be cherished and treasured because it comes from Him.  We must not waste one moment of those treasures by following those enticing bright and shiny objects that the world offers.  For in those "treasures" we will find emptiness and darkness.  They have no ability to sustain us for eternity.  Only God's new beginning for us each and every day have that ability.  We must lift each other up in this divine hope and, together, united in the love of God through Christ Jesus and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we shall find that peace and joy that was once the birthright of Adam.

Happy New Year!!