The New Year is a good time to review our commitments. What do we spend our time doing? For most of us, it’s work and family, commitments which are not optional. We work or go to school. We live with others or maintain friendships. Then there are commitments to healthy living - exercise, nutrition, adequate sleep. Work, family and health are the usual objects of New Year’s resolutions.
Do we also think about our commitment to God?
As Methodist Christians, we’ve all taken vows if we’re full members of the church. Most of us did this at our Confirmation. But with the years, it’s easy to put our vows on autopilot. For review, here are the vows as listed in the service of baptism:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
Will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?
In simpler language:
Have we turned away from sin?
Do we believe in Jesus and follow him?
Have we accepted God’s forgiveness through Christ?
Do we serve God in the church, and in the world?
In terms of commitment, we can ask ourselves this question: if someone followed us around for a week, would they know we were Christians? Would the way we used money, treated others, or spent our time provide evidence of our Christian commitment?
There may be some areas of our walk with God that would benefit from recommitment - prayer and Bible meditation, attending worship, Christian service inside or outside the church, or our lifestyle. Spend 10 minutes today thinking about these questions, and resolve in some definite way to live a more Christlike life. You will benefit, and so will those you live and work with.
Happy New Year, Pastor Eric
Christmas is the time of the church year when we focus on the Incarnation. Incarnation means to put on flesh. God the Son, at a certain time in history, left the Father’s side and became man. He did this, however, without losing his full divinity.
We see Jesus’ divinity in the gospels. He heals. He forgives sins, which only God can do. He teaches with authority, rather than citing Old Testament scriptures. He claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath. He rose from the dead. These are divine acts.
However, Jesus was also fully human. He had a human mother. He ate. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross. He died. These are human experiences.
At Christmas we celebrate, not only the birth of Jesus, but the coming of God in the flesh. God is truly with us. He has a human face in Jesus. God understands our human plight, our fragility, our temptations - because he shared those things in Jesus. God also reached down and redeemed our humanity by the offering of Jesus. And he did this by sharing our nature - not distantly, or abstractly - but actually.
I find great comfort in the doctrine of the Incarnation. Jesus is human enough to understand me, but also powerful enough to save me. Being a Christian means being fully human, but also striving to be like God - to be holy. God is near to us in Jesus, without ceasing to be God. What a wonderful Savior to follow.
What does it mean for you that God took on flesh in Jesus? At Christmas, let’s remember both aspects of our Savior - his full humanity, and his full divinity - and draw both comfort and strength from him.
See you in church!