A very merry Christmas to you and yours! My first few days have been lovely and full of God’s gifts, and I wish the very same for you! For my post today, I thought I’d highlight a thought that began with my good friend, Myrtle. We were thinking about how the Gospel is not only a gift that keeps giving, but also a gift that is continually given. 🙂
Maybe it is overly-simplistic to suggest that Judas went to the wrong people after he betrayed Jesus. In his guilt, he turned to law givers. He despaired after finding no hope or possibility of forgiveness. Even what he presumably considered “church” leadership left him alone with his own devices. What would have happened if he had confessed to someone else? What if it were someone who recognizes the work of God through His condemnation, and also professes God’s eternal mercy.
Ok, it is speculative thinking, although I think it illustrates a Law/Gospel dynamic. Still, the reality remains that each one of us sins on a continuous basis. The devil hungers for us, and only God’s mercy saves us. And, how does He grant that mercy? He sends His Word to be born in the flesh. That Word bears the Law while He also bears the Gospel—for us. And, as though that is not in every way the defining point of salvation and creation, God continues to send that same eternal Word. He converts, He enlivens, and He continues to work by His Spirit in the Word.*
Pastors, keep preaching. Because when people turn to the wrong people, there can be despair and disastrous outcomes. And isn’t that sometimes avoidable?
Above is the potential negative side. People mess up even the best of things, failing to share God’s gifts. However, the actual potential is exponentially beyond compare with our human failings. Bear with me. At any given point, God’s Word can give and strengthen faith. It can even give faith after faith has fled in the face of disaster, death, or other despair.
The new life and new heart we pray for comes. And, it comes and it comes and it comes. God gives tirelessly.
Our Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sought and seeks our salvation. He blesses creation and provides all we need, including the life to come apart from sin, death, and the devil. Giving the greatest gift, Himself, He sends His Son. He sends His Word; and He just keeps on sending!
Days come when God’s Word leaves an area. We cannot deny it. But the extent of our sinfulness and evil ways, especially compounded by malignant lies, in no way diminishes the glory of God. He created us. He gives. Even Himself He does not withhold. Then He renews us and strengthens us with more and more giving, even resurrecting us according to His gracious, merciful, life-loving will!
I wanted to write a Christmas poem about how the gift and the giver keeps giving. That the beauty in ongoing reception, and ongoing always -“new” (?) life is beyond compare—beyond human conception apart from the one true God, made known in His Son, revealed by His Word. Well, that may not have happened, but I want to think about this more. It seems to me that it is thematic and a theme that could be further explored in artistic renderings, written or visual.
What do you think?
May the fullness of Scripture be continually given to you, and may the Gospel remain a precious gift you share with those around you!
*And sacraments. I focus on the Word as a way to emphasize the power and efficacy continually remains with God.