I’ve recently been reminded (and, quite honestly, wonder-struck) by the moment-to-moment nature of relationship, including the relationship into which God has invited us with Himself. Faithfulness is an action verb, and a choice we make continually – not just once. An oft-heard comparison of our relationship with God is the marriage analogy because it is another covenant relationship, wherein each person has a choice to make. In a sermon I heard recently (11/20/11), former pastor at UPC, Bruce Larson was quoted as saying, “Nobody gets married by saying, ‘I agree.’ Or ‘How true.'” Instead, it requires, “I do.” Covenant relationship is a choice and an action, not a mental ascension.
Christmas carols and hymns are one of the gifts of Advent. Yearly audible reminders of the season. Until recently, though, I have struggled a bit with one of the mainstays of December, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” That is because when I start to sing that song – which opens with the title line – I ask myself, “Is that me? Am I faithful? Am I faithful enough to even sing this song?” The answer is without fail, “Sometimes,” which can make me feel unworthy to be singing a song about faithfulness. But, I’ve started to change my perspective on this song recently. Instead of seeing it as an invitation to the faithful, I now sing and hear it as an invitation to be faithful. It’s not a call to the most pious among us to take their rightful place next to the God incarnate. It’s an invitation to all of us to be faithful by simply coming, beholding, adoring, God – who came to us as a baby.
It’s what I like to call the present progressive nature of faith. Present progressive is a verb tense that – much like its name indicates – indicates action now. “I am writing” means something altogether different from “I write.” The former requires intentionality in the present moment that the latter does not. I see “O Come All Ye Faithful” in a similar vein. Regardless of my past faithfulness, I can right now choose to look for God. The actions the song invites us into — behold, adore, come, sing, greet, give glory — are actions that invite us to simply gaze upon the wonder of the gift God gave us in Jesus. Those actions are in and of themselves acts of faithfulness.
Let’s commit ourselves to faithfulness today, looking for what God is doing all around us. Praise God because in this covenant relationship, He has already chosen us and now the choice is ours; whether we have been faithful most of our life or we have never chosen to behold God before, the invitation is there.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:8-20
Like the shepherds, help us to seek You today.
Help us to gaze upon You – who You are and what You have done in our lives & then to join the angels praising You.
With Mary, we want to ponder the wonder of who You are in our hearts, allowing it to transform who we are.
Allow us to be faithful today to You, who are faithful always.
Remind us of Your presence with us, that we might be faithful to simply behold You.
Give us the courage to say, “I do,” now and in each moment.
Becky R, UMin Executive Assistant