From: Jon Yeager
Today is the day when most in our culture will begin a journey that has a good chance of ending in failure. Our New Year’s Resolutions come and they go (maybe they would have a better chance if they were January Resolutions). The modern convention of an individual to proclaim a resolution at the beginning of our calendar year has only one thing to stand upon: a personal desire. We don’t have to search long to see that this foundational premise is at best a precarious one.
What I love about our Exodus and Luke texts today is that they display the wonderful consistency of God’s character as the basis of his longing to be with us. The Israelites have made their golden calf, Moses has thrown the two tablets of the Law breaking them in his anger, and now God is meeting with Moses yet again to give them the Law and thus continue in this covenant journey he has begun with them. Why continue this clearly broken project? Why not give up like so many of us give up our resolution after a few missteps in late January? After descending towards Moses in the cloud, God reminds us that this journey stands upon his character, “The LORD a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (34.6). Moses dropped in worship.
Most, if not all, could not have foreseen the God who dwelled with Moses through the cloud and fire choose to dwell with the world through a manger. While it may seem shockingly incongruous as events in a story, it is wonderfully consistent with the character and desire of God. From the beginning, he has desired to dwell among us, and to do so forgiving, healing, and restoring us through “a savior, who is Christ the Lord” (2.11). God in his glory, which sent everyone scrambling from the mountain except for Moses, has come to us in the manger. Fear is still very much appropriate as seen in the shepherds, however, this fearful awe is met with comfort (do not be afraid), song (glory to God, and peace on earth), and an expectant gathering around the manger. The shepherds strolled home in worship.
If we have any semblance of a resolution this year, may it not merely be based on a personal whim we have in this moment, but rather in response to God’s faithfulness to be with us this year. And I think it would be perfectly appropriate for our resolution to be centered on Mary’s response; to treasure God’s character and activity in our lives, taking time to ponder upon the God who is with us.
I, my wife Brittany, and daughter Ellie live in Arlington. I work for a Christian leadership organization called Christian Union on Harvard’s campus.