Using the Lenten season profitably

The Gift of all gifts

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come…for if by the one man’s offence many died, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ…the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…

(abbreviated from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 5. ESV Bible)

No one understands at once all that is included in God’s Gift to Adam’s sinful race. In fact, I plan to still be unwrapping the gift of Jesus Christ until the day my life on earth ends. The Lenten season for me has become an excellent time of extended meditation on this gift and the far reaching themes it touches- from the beginning in Adam into the eternal age that is even now breaking in-the new heavens and the new earth.

For Lent, I’ll be thinking about the reality of sin and it’s destruction here on earth. I have plenty to mourn about, starting with my own participation in the rebellion & conspiracy against the Creator. This mourning will only end at the crucifixion of the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ the Righteous son of God.

Did you happen to notice in this critical text, that the Apostle Paul calls the free gift from God to sinners, “the gift of righteousness“? Going back and reading the context of these verses, beginning at Chapter 5, and reading through Chapter 8, I think I will have a deeper unwrapping of the gift. Peace w/ God, access to the presence of the Holy God, and a rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God! (and this will also put suffering in perspective-see chapter 8, verses 18-39).

Slowly unwrapping this “unspeakable gift” has its own reward; through Christ it will strengthen me and enable me to “reign in life” in the midst of this wicked generation together with those “who love God and are called according to His purpose”, and to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”.

Speaking of righteousness, see my related post on Psalms 1,2

FIRST SUNDAY of ADVENT

Around the world in many different traditions of faith, Christians this Sunday will all be worshipping in keeping with an accepted calender that designates it as the beginning of a new liturgical year. Literally millions of Christians will be “united” in spirit and that makes me very happy. Of course that does not include all Christians and by no means all traditions of the Christian Faith and no you won’t find this anywhere in the Bible. For instance the Orthodox Churches celebrate a different calender and then there are many non-liturgical churches that do not follow any christian calender.

LITURGY: What do I mean by the word?  liturgy

 Not infrequently in Christianity, a distinction is made between “liturgical” and “non-liturgical” churches based on the elaboration and/or antiquity of the worship, but this obscures the universality of public worship as a religious phenomenon. Thus, even the open or waiting worship of Quakers is liturgical, since the waiting itself until the spirit moves individuals to speak is a prescribed form of Quaker worship, sometimes referred to as “the liturgy of silence.” Typically in Christianity, however, the term “the liturgy” normally refers to a standardized order of events observed during a religious service, be it a sacramental service or a service of public prayer.

As a religious phenomenon, liturgy is a communal response to the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance.

I was not always aware of this reality simply because I was not brought up in a liturgical church. But over the years as I have become more and more aware of the other faith traditions, this one has greatly enriched my understanding of the universal christian family on earth. It’s a good thing; one of my sons is an ordained minister in a liturgical church and as a Chaplain in the military is recognized with a “liturgical” classification in contrast to non-liturgical Chaplains.

Most liturgical congregations also follow the Lectionary as a common source of prescribed Scripture readings for each Sunday of the Year insuring that there is a world-wide harmony on any given Sunday if not on the theme of the worship service, then at least in the Scriptures being considered.

As I looked at the orientations that are on the internet for the new Lectionary year and Advent Sundays, one especially caught my eye and I heartily recommend it to anyone who might want to join a large part of the Christian family in the season of celebrating in a special way, the Incarnation Event-the birth of Jesus, God’s anointed redeemer. The site is the worship page over at the United Methodist Church.

Worship well as you begin the New Year. adventseason