"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2v11-14)What do we have to show for 2005? What has the year been like? Is it simply another year on the treadmill? Is all of life ultimately futile? We could be tempted to think so. Can there be more? Let there be a resounding "yes!" Futility is a way of life open to humanity, if we will ignore the judgement of God and try to live under the sun, under our own rule (try Ecclesiastes for some light festive reading). Such futility is not inevitable. Life doesn't have to be this way!
There are two places we must look,. Firstly, back two thousand years to the birth of Jesus - at that point in history grace appeared. Jesus Christ, truth incarnate bring an offer of salvation for anyone who will accept it. A rescuer offering us an alternative to futility. Our former life of separation, of loneliness, of meaninglessness can be replaced. An offer extending to all kinds of people, the good, the bad and the ugly. A resuce that includes an invitation to become part of a new community - a community where there is relationship, where gluttony is replaced by self-control, emptiness by joy.
This isn't just a lifestyle choice to fend off futility. This a way of life, waiting for another appearing. A second place to look. Life centred up the gracious and glorious Jesus Christ. Life waiting not for nothingness, but waiting for Jesus to return. Waiting for glory to appear. Our lives matter because they are lived in the light of the past and the future. He will come to take his people for himself. For those who claim to have recognised his first appearing there is a charge to be his people, changed in character from what we were previously.
If we miss his first appearing and its command to us we'll surely not be ready for his second. God has not left us in the dark, he has revealed himself. All the tragedies and celebrations of 2005 are overshadowed by the two appearings of Jesus Christ. One in the past, one to come. Both speak to us in the present. Not calling us to self-reformation and new years resolutions. No, Jesus stood in our place on death row so that we could be rescued by him. So that we could be called into a new life, in a new community, with a new future. Look back to when grace appeared, look forward to when glory will appear.
Happy Christmas! - blogging resumes here in 2006.