One of the things that my mom would have us do at the end of a school year was to make a scrapbook of pictures of events and achievements from the past year. It was fun to review what my brother, sister and I had done and talk about the memories we would treasure from whatever grade we had just completed. At the end of each summer, we would do the same thing and include pictures of places we traveled to and friends and family we spent time with during the months away from school. It was fun to remember the good times we had and keep a memento of what happened with our scrapbooks. Sometimes we would crack them open at different times of the year as a pick-me-up or to show others what we experienced at various points in our lives.
I now have those scrapbooks in my attic and look at them occasionally, but not as much as I thought I would. The art of scrapbooking has faded in this era of electronic pictures as well, so future generations may not have as meticulous a record of what occurred in a person’s life in any particular year, which I find a shame.
But we do have another book that tells us everything we need to know about our background and about the events that we should remember always. That book, of course, is the Bible, the Church’s scrapbook, if you will, that reminds us of what God’s people experienced and endured through hundreds and thousands of years of history. It tells us about the good times of creation, the bad times of sin, the journeys through the wilderness, the triumphs in battle and the defeats suffered. It highlights the life of our greatest family member, Jesus, who went to the cross from our salvation on Good Friday and rose for us on Easter Sunday to bring us everlasting life.
The Bible should never be a book we store away in a dusty attic never to crack open again. It should be a book that is always at our fingertips and open for us to explore frequently. The Bible should always remind us of who we are as children of God and what we should treasure most: that our names are written in the Book of Life forever through Christ. Happy reading!
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of always getting messages on my computer to update to the next operating system or the latest version of a particular program that I use. It is a struggle: Do I “move up” or keep things as they are?
In our Christian lives, the answer is always to update, to move forward, to begin anew. That is why we have confession and absolution every time we worship. We need to be upgraded from sinful to forgiven people of God again and again by his grace and mercy. Staying “where we are” spiritually on any given day only keeps us in our sins and thus separated from our source of renewal in God through Christ.
Updating in a spiritual sense also means returning to the Word of God on a regular basis to remind us of what Scripture says. We can so easily forget what the Bible proclaims to us about our motivation for living. What are we designed for? Take a look:
Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Life, in the Christian faith, is all about newness and growing and not giving up. So don’t be afraid to keep updating your life of faith with more prayer, more confession, more devotion and Bible readings. Expanding your commitment to Christ means extending your relationship with him. Becoming closer and closer to Christ in more and more ways brings blessings upon blessings. Let the updates abound.
On this day of inauguration, we are reminded as Christians that while we are citizens of this nation, we are also citizens of a divine kingdom. As St. Paul tells us, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). No matter who the president is, our King is Jesus and he rules over all in heaven and on earth, and our allegiance belongs ultimately to him.
So much is happening in our country that it is sometimes hard to know what rules to follow. But the commands of the kingdom of God are clear:
• Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 19:19).
• In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy (1 Peter 3:15).
• Encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace (2 Corinthians 13:11).
• Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (Colossians 3:23).
These should be guidelines we live by above all others. May using them as our rules of order, if you will, bring about more blessings within our borders and greater unity among our residents.
In the song “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, the characters ponder the question, “How you do measure a year in a life?” They give some options: in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in truths that she learned or in times that she cried, in bridges he burned or the way that she died. In the end, they reveal that it is love that a year should be measured by.
How are you showing love in this year now that we are just a few weeks in? In smiles, in waves, in phone calls and text messages, through Zoom or Facetime? Would anyone know the love you have if they saw you today?
St. John helps us to remember that love is made known in our actions. “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Think about what you are doing and how you are expressing the love that you have for the Lord and the love that you have for others.
It is not a time to hide in the shadows, but to make the love Christ has for each one of us known. And let love never be just a season, but an entire lifetime of care and compassion. Take a moment today to convey love in some small way and keep that practice going day after day. Little way by little way, love grows and grows. Be a part of the love mosaic God has pieced together through us and through his Son, Jesus.
When I was young and our family went on a trip, my mom would often buy us “invisible ink” books to play with. With a special yellow pen you could uncover the answers to questions, find interesting animals or see characters of a story. Creative Communications currently offers a book called “I Was Lost, Now I’m Found,” in which you need only an ordinary pencil to reveal images to tell you the story of Jesus (Order Code FN7).
The idea of invisible ink is a reminder to us that God has a story to tell us right beneath the surface of our lives. We are sons and daughters of our parents, for instance, but beneath the surface we know there is a greater family we are a part of, the family of God. We know that we are citizens of the country where we dwell, but beneath the surface we belong to the kingdom of God. We see ourselves as students, parents, workers, teachers, children, friends and many other roles that we have from day-to-day, but beneath the surface is Christ within us. He is guiding our thoughts, words and deeds, so that when people see us, they see Christ. We don’t need a special pen or pencil to make any of this happen. It happens through the Holy Spirit, who helps us to see with new eyes the divine story that is being revealed to us.
I am always fascinated with the Bible verse: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Mirrors in Bible times were not like the mirrors of today. They were made of highly polished metal. So the reflecting ability of ancient mirrors was limited compared to that of today’s glass mirrors. That is why St. Paul refers to seeing dimly through a mirror. That is the only way you could see yourself in those days, as a hazy outline.
In today’s modern world, we see too much of ourselves, you might say, with our floor length mirrors, our bathroom mirrors, mirrors in hallways and elevators and at makeup counters. Doctors can see directly inside of us with x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs. We may get the feeling that we know ourselves inside and out.
But, of course, even in this age of technology, there is still so much we do not yet know about ourselves and about our place in this world. We are just as “in the dark” as St. Paul when it comes to what our eternity with God will look like. But the good news of this verse is that one day we will see the face of God before our eyes. We will know what the world to come will truly be. When we pass from this world to the next, it will be crystal clear what our purpose and place is to be in the kingdom of God and we will view like never before the love, mercy, and grace that God lavished upon us through Christ, who came to earth to wipe the haze of sin away from our lives forevermore.