Once in a while I try to pass along some inspiration from Rebekah’s Sunday morning message. Yesterday she shared a lot of helpful insights, but one idea struck me as exceptional so I’ll pass it on to kick off this second full week in December.
TURN AROUND AND START OVER: Repentance, as most of us already know, is about recognizing the need for change, turning around, and heading in a new direction. The best misunderstanding I’ve ever heard of the word came from a man who told me (in all sincerity) that he’d decided it was time to repent, and that he was determined to, “Turn my life around, 360-degrees!”
The word “rejoice,” it turns out, has layers of meaning, and – in Bible times – was used as a salutation; rejoice meant “be well,” “farewell,” “be glad,” or “God speed.” Rejoice, in other words, can mean saying goodbye.
So if repentance is about turning away from what harms us and setting our path in the direction of goodness and faith, and if rejoicing involves saying “fare-well,” then it follows that repentance can be a vitally important element of being able to rejoice.
a simple message
CHRISTMAS WISDOM: This makes a lot of sense in terms of preparation for Christmas. How can we possibly embrace the real meaning of Incarnation absent turning away from the rampant false messages that crowd out the simple power of God’s initiative via a fragile, vulnerable, open-hearted baby boy?
There’s no way that we can grasp the meaning of the birth of Jesus if we’re still oriented toward goals and values that contradict his message of self-giving, sacrificial, generous, servant-hearted love.
If we don’t repent (re-orientate, turn around, one-eighty, about-face…), then that means we’re still facing the wrong way. Not just facing the wrong way, but moving purposefully in the wrong direction.
DRIVE-BY: Sometimes we pause to take look over our shoulder at the nativity; or we drive by – at speed. “Did you catch a glimpse of Jesus?” “Yes, I think I saw the top of his head in the manger, but I didn’t have time for more than a glance.”
My challenge for this week, then, is the kind of repentance that leads to genuine rejoicing. “JOY” is a huge part of our Christmas emphasis. But it will remain illusive unless, first, we make the decision to turn around, face in a new direction, and move – with intention – toward the Savior of the Word.
Not just the Savior of the World, but my savior, my hope,my peace, my love, my joy, my serendipity, my reason to rejoice - DEREK