Genesis – A Book of Beginnings

February 20, 2019

Rector’s Letter to the Congregation (Week of January 20, 2019)

Today is the second Sunday after Epiphany Day. We celebrate the joy and vitality that the Messiah restores in the life of the believer.

In our Bible reading adventure from Genesis to Revelation, word to word, individual readers should be soon completing the book of Genesis, if not already finished with it. I wonder what salient points readers noticed in their reading.

Genesis is a book of beginnings: the beginning of the universe, of life on earth, of sin, of estrangement from God, of nations, of the Hebrew lineage, and more. Think about other beginnings that you noticed in your reading.  

Did you notice how God told Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, each on a different occasion, that they would have many descendants (plural), and that “through your descendant [singular] all the world will be blessed?” Genesis 22:17 – 18; 26:4; 28:14). That descendant is Jesus Christ. Knowledge of Him is life itself. Submission to Him is the solution to world problems.

But, as God says in Jeremiah 2:13, God’s people have forsaken God, the fountain of living water, and have used their own ingenuity to dig for themselves cisterns that can hold no water. No wonder the whole earth is reeling in problems after problems. We as human beings do not have the wherewithal to solve the issues that beset us.  

So today, on the second Sunday after Epiphany, the Messiah acts out the turning of a sour situation into a sweet one at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. The drinks ran out at the wedding. That’s a shame for the groom. Jesus took care of it. He turned water into wine, and then there was plenty of drink, moreover quality drink. That’s what He wants to do in every life if we’d give Him a chance. Will you?

This week’s challenge:

To Live the Christian Way, Where Do We Start?

[As long as we think about the Christian life by taking our natural self as the starting point], one or the other of two results is likely to follow. Either we give up trying to be good, or else we become very unhappy indeed. For, make no mistake: if you are really going to try to meet all the demands made on the natural self, it will not have enough left over to live on. The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. And your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier.

At the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who, as they say, “live for others” but always in a discontented, grumbling way—always wondering why others do not notice it more and always making a martyr of yourself. And once you have become that you will be a far greater pest to anyone who has to live with you than you would have been if you had remained frankly selfish.

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

Both harder and easier than what we are trying to do. You have noticed, I expect, that Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, “Take up your Cross”—in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp. Next minute he says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He means both. And one can just see why both are true.

From Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, First Touchstone Edition 1996:169

Question to ponder:

C.S. Lewis stresses the need to give all areas of our lives to God. What do you find most difficult about giving all to God? Please share your answer with a friend.

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