A New Year And A Renewed Obedience

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

“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? My mom drove that point home to me as I watched her follow her convictions when it would have been temporarily easier for her to “bend” her convictions to bring her some temporary comfort. She just pressed ahead with what she believed and that lesson has stuck with me my whole life. To this day, my goal is always to press out the implications of my convictions to test whether they are true or not.

Oh, Happy New Year! (I almost forgot!) And what a perfect time to be confronted with a moment to do an internal inventory of our unchangeable beliefs and convictions. This is a good time to stop and evaluate what convictions we will take with us into this new year. I hope and pray you are scheduling periods of time when you do this interior work, because if you don’t do this from time to time, you are going to find yourself in places you never intended. It is the purposeful living of life that produces the best living!

Look at our Lesson on this New Year’s Day 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 to teach us about priorities, faithfulness, and purposeful living.

The First Scene sees our Lord, small and helpless, being carried to the Temple for the rite of circumcision. Imagine the Lawgiver obeying the Law He gave to Moses! And obedience abounds in this scene as the Lord is named Jesus just as the angel commanded Joseph! There’s a hint here for you and me as to the power of obedience in faithfulness.

The Second Scene is even more amazing as we see the Holy Family going to Jerusalem for the Lord’s “bar mitzvah.” And while He is there, He enters His Temple and astonishes the elders there. The family leaves without Him and then goes back in a panic to find Him teaching in His Temple. But watch; Jesus, after reminding His mother and foster father of His true purpose, leaves His Temple and returns with His earthly family in obedience. If the Lawgiver leaves us this kind of example, shouldn’t we do the same?

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? A whole new year lays before you; choices, convictions, plans, and events. Your convictions will shape everyone of these realities and make you (or “unmake” you) into the person you were created to be. So, Happy New Year and let’s practice being Orthodox on Purpose in 2021!

P.S. Lord, as we enter a new calendar year, grant me the humility, love, and patience to renew my obedience to You and this life of Orthodox wisdom. Help me overcome the scars of the past year with a quiet confidence that not one tear and one wound is wasted by your grace to form me into the man You know I can be! Grant me patience, not only with myself, but with all around me, knowing that Your Spirit is at work in their lives too. Have mercy on us in this Year of Your Grace and Love! Amen

One comment:

  1. Humility is accepting that someone else’s way may be better. On the Island of Crete there is monastery dedicated to Panagia Hodegetria. In an icon depiction of the Panagia Hodegetria, holding the Child Jesus the Mother of God’s hand points to Jesus as the Salvation for man, for humanity.

    Monasteries and Churches have been built to honour the Theotokos who as an example of humility assumes a leadership role with Christ the Everlasting Father to foster Jesus Barabbas the resistance leader and raise him as the Prince of Peace to fulfill the prophecy as stated in Isaiah 9:6 in his Greek Father’s house.–and become the Man God knew he could be.

    Thank you Father Barnabbas for your post. Your post encouraged me to think about the role the Panagia assumes and to remember how when a man and a woman marry, they become ONE, He + she become HE. Moreover with faith, obedience and humility they and the children they raise up become the Holy Family that God knows they can be.

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