This week, endings and beginnings get jumbled together. The last month on the calendar coincides with the first season of the Christian year. The new year coincides with ending fiscal cycles. School semesters end and begin. We plan to relinquish poor habits and achieve new goals.
Today’s reading frames God’s relationship with Jesus-followers in cosmic time. All complicated temporal and spiritual cycles pale in importance compared to God’s cosmic scheme, from “before the foundation of the world” to “the fullness of time.” God’s expectations and desires for the universe—and for us—are set between a time “in the beginning,” prior to creation itself and when all will finally be gathered up in Christ.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are a redeemed people that exists for “the praise of the glory” of God. The Greek word for glory is doxus, the root of the word doxology. This term is familiar to many of us as something we sing during worship services: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. . . .” But we cannot just praise God on Sunday mornings. As disciples, our whole lives are to be lived in praise of God’s glory. How joyous, humbling, and overwhelming this can be!
Can you recall a time when you were consumed by efforts to complete a seemingly endless list of tasks to prevent a sense of personal failure or disappointment to others rather than by preparing for God’s glorious gift—the gift of God’s own Beloved? Let us commit this new year to reimagining our lives framed by praise for God’s glorious grace and love and to living as redeemed people in the face of the challenges of our daily lives.
Holy God, thank you for the incredible gift of your Beloved, Jesus Christ. May my life always reflect my praise and gratitude for your grace and love. Amen.
Jeremiah delivers happy news, a promise from the Lord of a brighter future day. God will bring back the scattered peoples to their homeland, and their mourning will turn into joy. The psalmist encourages those in Jerusalem to praise God for all that God has done. God gives protection, peace, and the law to the children of Israel. The author of Ephesians encourages readers with confidence in God’s eternal plan. God’s will is to send Christ and adopt us into God’s family. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The opening to John helps us understand the eternal scope of God’s plan. From the beginning, the Word has been with God but then becomes flesh and lives among us to reveal divine glory.
Read Jeremiah 31:7-14. How do you continue to celebrate God’s goodness, even if the Christmas season has been difficult for you?
Read Psalm 147:12-20. What is your doxology—your command and faith claim—today?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14. Consider the author’s question, Who makes up your family? Do you define your family by looking back to your heritage or looking forward to your legacy and future generations’ inheritance?
Read John 1:1-18. What does it mean for you that Jesus is cocreator in the beginning and takes on human life and suffering as Emmanuel?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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