Vicar's Letter December 2018 / January 2019
Advent, Christmas and New Year
This year we are all given a Bible verse to carry around with us in this Advent season and into 2019. This is the verse.
"All of us, with unveiled faces seeing the Glory of God as though being reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Cor 3v18
In Judaism no one could look on God and live. However, on Good Friday the veil in the temple was ‘rent asunder’ – a metaphor of liberation – and God became open to us as Lord and saviour. The verse for 2019 is taken from Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth. In it, Paul says that we have the possibility to change or transform our earthly life into the image of God himself.
Without God’s love being shown to us in Christ such a transformation would not be possible and our religion would solely be, at best, a matter of human will and morality. As it is Jesus, the human face of God born at Christmas, has shown in his own generation the manner and relationship it is possible to have with God the Father. By the Spirt of Jesus available to every Christian in what ever generation they have lived – the possibility of change and transformation becomes a reality rather than a fantasy.
At Christmas God poured the whole of his divinity into a small child born at Bethlehem. Jesus was the human image of the unseen Father. January is a time for assessing our lives – and some rashly make resolutions which are often broken before the end of the month. So, don’t make a resolution – rather pray and ask God that you might be transformed more closely into his image. Resolution is a matter of human will, prayer is a matter of being open to the Spirit of God. So, at the start of the year don’t fantasise about your resolve to be a better Christian in 2019. Our resolve may be vague and foggy – and fail. Leave your growth to God himself as his Spirit transforms us. As Giles Fraser puts it so eloquently in an article about his aunt’s dementia
“Could it be, that for some of us, it is only when our own schemes have gone all foggy , that we are released to become the people God really wants us to be”
Your Bible verse card has this prayer on the reverse side:
who showed your loving purposes
for us in Jesus Christ.
Give us grace and courage
to transform our lives into your image,
and to serve you in mission and praise. Amen
May we not only recite that prayer in 2019 but inhabit it and realise it in our own journey with God.
Every blessing for a joyful Advent, Christmas and New Year.