Once again the liturgical year takes full, unapologetic advantage of the calendar this week. We read about the beginning of all things in Genesis and the inauguration of Jesus’ earthly ministry at his baptism by John on this, the first Sunday of 2018. Consider this: just how important is it that the God of Holy Scripture brings life into being by a Word?
An almighty God can do anything. An all-powerful God could have created life in any way imaginable. It would have been possible for God to simply “make” stuff the way a magician seems to pull a rabbit out of a hat. But that isn’t what Genesis tells us happened. God “spoke” and life came into being. From the chaos and confusion (1:2) of darkness, God spoke light into existence and didn’t stop until humanity, the centerpiece of His creation, came into being. And the importance of God’s Word for these thinking, speaking people would become even more apparent as they lost their way and sought the source of true Life once again. God's Word would most spectacularly burst on the scene through the ministry of Jesus. Not only do words from God at Jesus' baptism declare Jesus to be God's Son. God speaks of Jesus as One in whom His good pleasure unequivocally rests (Mark 1:11).
How much of what we often get wrong about the Christian faith has to do with the connection between God’s Word and life? So often we think about religion and faith as something that WE must do: nurture a strong faith, show love to other people, have a highly developed spirituality. Or we think that the faith of those we love or with whom we spend time (our children, our spouse, or the guy in the next cubicle at work) is somehow ultimately up to us. In fact, our proximity to the force that brought the universe into existence is what Life is really all about! God’s Word, delivered through the Holy Scriptures, revealed through the person of Jesus Christ, and sought ought (knowingly or unknowingly) by all who bear the breath of life is where true existence begins. Through the water of Holy Baptism, we have been rescued from the chaos and confusion of mere babble and recreated by divine promises that invigorate us now and take us…living…into eternity.
What difference will what God said and is saying today mean for you and for others you will meet in 2018? We are all creatures of God and have been made new by God’s Word. Let's seek life where God continues to speak it into existence again this New Year.