New Year - New Ways1
Hope Weekly - January 7, 2013
New Year -- New Ways
Any parent who has a child with a birthday near Christmas probably remembers that typical response people have after asking "so when is your baby due?" It usually went something like this: "Oh poor kid...that's a tough time of the year to have a birthday."
The irony was that this "bad timing" was the source of an amazing gift. As my wife, Laura, grew larger, so the longing in my heart grew with the anticipation of the Advent of God incarnate. In the waiting I was able to experience the true meaning of the Advent season and more fully able to experience the joy of the big day - Christmas. And what an amazing gift that was.
I believe that one of the ways God calls the Church to live differently than the rest of the world, is to mark time differently. I would implore each of you to consider the cycle of the church calendar year. This is just one way that we are able to think of time differently and to see our story in God's story. The celebration of Advent is simply a liturgical season, celebrated as a tool to more clearly tell God's story and the anticipation of his Son Jesus.
Just a couple of weeks ago Pastor Corrie preached a sermon on "Healing Our Images of God." If you attended the service I trust you were able to come face to face with your humanness, recognize your brokenness, participate in the time of corporate confession and experience some level of healing.
I found her message very fitting as it came the Sunday after Christmas. Perhaps the apparent need of a Savior became even more palpable this Christmas season in wake of the shooting that claimed 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Many cried out in anticipation "come, Lord Jesus come."
Over the last few months I have been working through a book written by one of my college professors, Scott McKnight, titled "Embracing Grace." McKnight explores the story of humanity: "Eikons," made in the image of God. Cracked and distorted due to sin and The Fall, McKnight mentions the importance of confession or the litany of penitence. This ancient practice, though largely lost in protestant circles, is most beneficial when prayed slowly and out loud. It is then, McKnight believes, that we are free to let "our mind wander into the cracks of our own Eikon to discover what is there and what needs to be brought into healing grace."
By holding on to the liturgical traditions of Advent I believe I was able to draw closer to Jesus. Through confession, I have experienced the healing grace of God. Are there ways in which old liturgical traditions such as confession could enrich your spiritual life?
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, in this New Year, consider marking time differently. Reconsider Pastor Corrie's sermon and take on the old spiritual practice of confession. James 5:16 says:
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
Let's embrace these traditions as powerful tools for spiritual growth.