A fellow who lived in the rural part of Middle Tennessee where my mother grew up responded in this fashion when people asked him what kind of Christian he was: "Well, I reckon I'm the regular kind. I cuss when I get mad and pray when I get scared." This kind of assessment of human virtue might lead one to cry out, as the psalmist does, saying in effect, "Who are we mortals that you pay any attention to us?"
Who are we, after all, here and now, two thousand years after the life of Jesus? We are certainly more technologically advanced than ever before, but is the world a more peaceful and loving place for having experienced two millennia of Christian witness and influence? Most people would say that it is not. Sadly, many of the conflicts around the world today involve Christians fighting other people or allowing other religious traditions to encourage fighting among ourselves.
Has the cussing or the praying of regular Christians had more impact? We have received blessing, but have we been a blessing to all nations?
Psalm 8 makes the radical assertion that God creates humans as little less than their Maker. Apparently the image that God holds of us is far greater than the image we have of ourselves. Let us pray that we will grow into the image that God holds of us.
Creating God, you made me in your image. Now help me to grow into the person you have created me to be. Amen.
These scriptures chosen to mark the new year give us a panorama of perspectives, from Ecclesiastes as a poetic musing on how life is measured out in seasons, to the vision in Revelation of what we commonly consider the end of time itself. Psalm 8 asks what the role is for humans in God’s magnificent creation. At the core of these scriptures is a strong sense of God’s presence and loving steadfastness in which we can rest.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13. In what season of life do you find yourself? What are you praying for in this season?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel when you read the psalmist’s words that God has created humans “a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5)?
Read Revelation 21:1-6a. How is the vision of a new heaven and new earth described here good news for you? What do you see God making new in the world around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.