What Next?

After taking Spring Break off from posting daily, I have discovered that I cannot possibly give up blogging. More specifically, I find myself craving the Word of God like it is a real spiritual meal for me each day, and I have been starving for a week. I followed the book of John all of Lent, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ in his journey to Jerusalem, to the cross. Now that He is risen, and we are in the season of Eastertide, I am invited to “extended celebration,…exploring the ramifications of Easter for the redemption of all creation, and…joyful Christian living.” To do so, I will continue to post reflections on my daily practice of Lectio Divina, this time in the Epistles of John. John wrote his Gospel for his churches, to show them Christ’s life that they may see, know, and believe. He then wrote his Epistles to those churches that they would continue in this journey.

EPISTLE | 1 JOHN 1:1-10

1We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life — 2this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us —3we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John opens his letter to his churches with clear allusions to the opening prologue and the closing epilogue of his Gospel. This is meant to serve as an extension of and a commentary on Jesus Christ’s life, death, and life again set forth in the Gospel of John, “so that you also may have fellowship with us…with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (v.3), and “so that our joy may be complete” (v. 4).

The Easter message has profound implications for the community of the resurrection. John’s first and clearest point about resurrection life has to do with acknowledging and confessing and being forgiven of sin. At first this struck me as a step backward. The cross is about sin and forgiveness; the empty tomb is about joy and celebration. Isn’t it? But John is a very good pastor. He knows that once we take our eyes off the cross, we are quickly suckered into forgetting that we are sinful. One glance at the empty tomb can all too quickly snare our imagination and lead us to suppose that we were always this new creation, that we were never really so bad after all.

John says no! “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (v.8); “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (v.10). John is very clear: however excellent and renewing and energizing the new life we have in Christ is, we are still on this side of glory ourselves. That this new life is available to us now is certainly good news. But John reminds us at the outset that it is only available through the cross, through confession. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v.9).

Risen Lord,

Thank you for the power of your resurrection,

available to us through Your Holy Spirit.

Remind me, even in the midst of joyous new life,

to acknowledge where I am still clothed with the old person,

and to confess those sins I commit (and those sins of omission).

Then open my hands, my heart, and my head,

to gratefully receive your forgiveness

and to generously extend that grace to my neighbor.

Amen.

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