Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5 Gospel - Luke 3 (and Isaiah 65)

     The One John proclaimed as coming, He still comes to us and works in us today – to give us gifts of joy, to provide our lives with meaning and purpose, to fill in and raise our dark valleys of despair, to tear down the mountains of our pride, to straighten our crooked ways.
     What exactly will that look like in your life? It means different things for different individuals. John lets us hear that with his instructions for specific groups. The tax collectors were to stop cheating people out of money. The soldiers were to be content and not bully people until the soldier got what he wanted. And for everyone it means generosity, compassionate charity – giving food and clothing to the less fortunate for Christ’s sake. So what does it mean for you – as you live out such God-given roles as friend or father? Mother, neighbor, boss, brother, daughter, worker or retiree?  
     Whatever it may mean specifically, in general living out these God-given roles will be difficult. There will be unexpected twists and turns you never saw coming – over rough roads and rocky terrain and other places you would rather not be. The road of faith may even lead you out to some desert wilderness where it seems like you have to walk alone. You will work, and will not see any success for all your effort. Others who did not work might even get more benefit out of it. However, the Day is coming, declares the Lord, when
"They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of My people be, and My chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them" (Isaiah 65:21-23). 
     As you journey to that new heavens and new earth where you will rejoice forever, you will never be by yourself. Psalm 139 says that even if I cross the farthest seas, even there God’s hand shall lead me and hold me. For this God has given us our faith, the God who baptized you with the Holy Spirit and fire. He has given you His Word so that you can be certain that He is with you always to the end of time, our Immanuel. He who gives His body for food and His blood for drink – He promises to do for you what you cannot do; not only there on the Cross when He earned Heaven for you, but also goes to work in your heart – to change you, renew you, and even straighten you out. And already now He promises that even though you may never see the results of your work in the Lord, your labor will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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