St. Christopher's Episcopal Church
Beverly A. Tasy
New is Better
We are now more than halfway through Lent, halfway through our 40 days of determining in greater detail, greater sharpness, what our mission in this life is and should be. Prayer, meditation, discussion, and finally, action is where our Lenten direction should take us. We look at ourselves, at the teachings of Jesus, and try to align them more closely. It might just lead us somewhere unexpected.
The apostles and the Israelites before them were very often surprised by what the Lord had in mind for them. What they thought their God was saying to them was not always what he was saying to them. They, like us, figured that they had a good handle on the message God was sending. Then someone like Isaiah came along and told them not to consider the things of old, what they had been doing. God was about to do something new. Would they – do we – perceive it? The apostles, especially our old friend Peter, often had perception problems. Jesus had to correct those misperceptions – often. And then there is Paul. As Saul, he thought he had it made, knew it all. He was about as in-tune with God as anyone could hope to be. He was in the Hebrew elite. He was the protector of the faith and would not let it be debased by those Christian heretics. Boy, was he ever wrong! After a closer walk with Jesus he began to see more clearly. He not only saw things in a new way, he became an entirely new person (even took on a new name). He no longer considered the things of old. They became rubbish to him. Now only Jesus mattered.
Once we understand that only Jesus matters, like the apostles and like Paul who eventually came to that same conclusion (with a big helping hand from the Holy Spirit), then we are ready for the next step. Jesus took that next step, but in a much bigger, more universal way. He sacrificed his life for all of us. Sometimes we tend to look upon sacrifice as giving up something – something that we like as a penance, a cleansing of self, making us a better person. A sacrifice may look like a “giving-up.” But really, it is a “giving,” a giving of ourselves. Jesus gave himself to us, for us, for our salvation. The prophets, the apostles, Paul, and so many others let God take over their lives so that they could be found in God and have God in them. They did this – we can do this – by bringing the love of God to others. As their lives were made new, so they strived to bring that newness of life to everyone they encountered.
Such is our task. We all have different gifts – gifts from God meant to be used as he knows we can best use them, according to his Word: Love God, Love Neighbor. Once we allow this newness of God to dwell in us, we, too, like the apostles and all those who have come before us, with the help of God, can bring that love to our neighbors in ways we may have never thought possible.