Friday, January 1, 2010

Beginnings and Mission

I began my bible reading plan for 2010 this morning: Gen. 1-2; Psalms 1; Matt. 1:1-17; Acts 1:1-11.

I've been teaching through Genesis at Christ Church, and I was immediately confronted by an obvious motif in Genesis 1: God creates (ex nihilo), God forms, God blesses (indeed, with procreative power; e.g. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply.").

Psalms 1 offers a powerful warning: The one whose "delight is in the law of the LORD" who "meditates" on the LORD's law "day and night" is "like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither." Yet "the wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away."

Matthew, of course, begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, the promised Messiah, tracing the line from Abraham through David to the Christ. Matthew does not avoid the skeletons in that family's closet. He notes that "David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah" and reminds his readers of the deportation to Babylon. Indeed, that particular exile serves as a hinge-point for Matthew's narrative: "So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations" (Matt. 1:17).

In Acts we encounter the resurrected Messiah commissioning his disciples: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Our LORD creates (bara) from nothing. He creates and then forms with purpose. Not only this, but when we rebel and reject that purpose, he is gracious to replace "beauty for ashes" (Is. 61), as he did with David's fornication and violence. Or when things don't go as we had planned or predicted (e.g. the horrific exile of the Jews), YHWH corrects and restores and infuses the darkest seasons with a bright redemptive light. His perfect beginning will match his perfect end. His grace goes further: He includes us in his unstoppable work of declaring his glory and goodness to all people in all places. He sends those who rebelled and betrayed; he transforms them into missionaries with a new story to tell.

Rest in this as you take your first few steps into 2010.

Let your New Year be marked by delight, meditation, and proclamation.

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