Rev. Katherine Todd
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.
This Gospel presentation by Paul to the Colossians is succinct & full of richness. In it we learn that Christ was in the beginning – in fact everything created was created through and for Christ. Christ holds all things together. And Christ is the firstborn of the dead. In other words, of all creatures who live and die, Christ is the first to be re-born after death.
So in every way, Christ goes before us – in creation, in death, and in resurrection.
And Christ is the answer to our entrapment to sin and death – for Christ has made peace for all by the shedding of his own blood on the cross. So that now, we who were once estranged from God and one another because of our own evil deeds and hostile thoughts, we have been reconciled through Christ’s body and death. Having taken our sins upon himself and overcoming the grave, Christ now presents us as holy and blameless, irreproachable.
How can this be?
How can we who deserve to be isolated and estranged from God and one another because of our sins and brokenness be brought back into the family of God, claimed and named and presented to God as holy and blameless?!? This is incredible, almost inconceivable.
We have a clean slate because of Christ.
We have a second chance because of Christ.
We have a fresh start,
We have a new beginning,
And we have the love and forgiveness and companionship of Christ and our loving God, all because of Christ.
Can you take a moment to imagine life without this belonging? …without this forgiveness? …without this hope?
I don’t know about you, but I racked up a number of sins, just in my youth alone. And I cannot count the number of times my wife has forgiven me. I have needed my son’s forgiveness so very many times. And I am sure we have no hope of a future together unless many more times of forgiveness are given.
I am ever in need of this fresh start.
I am ever in need of forgiveness.
I am ever in need of hope and a new beginning.
I am ever in need of wisdom and growth.
I am ever in need of belonging.
I am ever in need of companionship for this hard journey.
Friends, let us rejoice in our God who has made a way for us – a way for us to live with hope. For we have been adopted into the family of God by Christ our Lord, and we are beloved and cherished.
May we let the reality of our adoption sink and settle into our bones.
For all that we do, every breath we breathe, every day we live is a gift from our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Friend. Indeed as Zechariah proclaims – by the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high has broken upon us. And where God’s light shines, we will never be the same.
So Christ, break through our darkness with your light, and cause your beautiful dawn to break forth in all our light-starved places. We believe, and we receive your gift of life and forgiveness and belonging. And we don’t want to live estranged from you or one another any longer. Heal us in your cleansing light, day after day. Flood our despair with your hope and guiding Spirit. For we are Yours.