Obedience Is the Path!Fr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is born!
“Do as I say, not as I do!” I remember thinking “Well, that’s not very convincing.” How can someone who refuses to follow their own advice have any credibility at all?
Oh, Happy New Year! (I almost forgot!) And what a perfect time to be confronted with an annual invitation to do an internal inventory of our unchangeable beliefs and convictions. We are thinking of New Year’s resolutions. We are mentally planning for our goals and objectives for the New Year. And we are “celebrating” the fresh, clean, untouched time of the New Year laid before us. This is a good time to stop and evaluate what convictions we will take with us into this new year. Perhaps you’ll have time to do this at “halftime” or in between “Bowl” games today! 🙂
Look at our Gospel Lesson in Luke 2:20-21, 40-52:
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.
Two scenes are given to us on this New Year’s Day to teach us about priorities, faithfulness, and purposeful living for 2016!
The first scene is the Lord of glory, enfleshed and made weak by His own will and power for our sake, is taken for the traditional marking of His flesh as a faithful member of His people. The Lawgiver obeys the Law. Even as a “helpless” baby, the Incarnate Lord is raised in a faithful home. This home, these people are diligent to follow the wisdom of the Law given to Moses. The Incarnate Lord is named. He is circumcised in the flesh so that He will be able to finally provide the “circumcision made without hands” (see Colossians 2:8-12) to each of us as He invites us to allow Him to write His Law on our hearts.
The second scene is that same Lord of glory, the Lawgiver, showing that His purposeful living also supercedes these same “traditions” of family when, in His 12th year, He stays in His “Father’s house.” The Theotokos and St. Joseph were frantic with worry about His whereabouts but He offers them a check on their own convictions when He confronts them with the reality of His purpose. What a perfect picture of both the Lawgiver and His faithfulness AND the radical new vision of that Law that will supercede all previous wisdom given. God in the Flesh invites us to embrace both faithfulness AND the forever changed reality that God has come among us to finally be in us!
Today, as we begin a New Year, stop, even for a moment, and inventory your unchangeable convictions. What are they? Do they include your unwavering faithfulness to a purposeful practice of your faith? Do they include the universe-changing reality that God has become Flesh so that you might become “like” Christ? Your convictions will shape your year and make you (or “unmake” you) into the person you were created to be. So, Happy New Year and let’s be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. We have an exciting announcement about our “A Journey to Fullness” Video Outreach project coming up next week! Don’t miss the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT this coming Monday! Also, who would you want to get these daily devotionals in 2016? Why not forward today;s devotional to 5 friends or family and ask them to sign up! Thanks and have a great weekend!