Christmas Day

Lesson 2: Titus 2:11-14.

(I’m going to assume that we do all actually know the story of the birth of Jesus. If you missed it or would like a refresher, try Luke 2:1-20 or Maryam 22-30.)

This passage from Titus points, as my lectionary puts it “to the meaning of Christ’s appearance”. It reminds us that the Christmas story does not make sense without the Easter story, of the God who “gave up self for us to redeem us from all iniquity”, and that in the arrival of Christ at Christmas there is a foretelling of the arrival of Christ in the future, the “appearing of the glory” for which we are waiting. I note also that the people Christ is gathering should be “zealous for good deeds”, very relevant to a recent post of mine!

The bit which interests me most is in the first sentence, though. The grace of God is said here to be “training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world”. Some translations give “in this present age”, or something like it, which I take here merely as a warning against building elaborate theological structures on just one comment. The gist seems clear, though: while we’re in the here and now, we are waiting for Christ, and while we do that we are to live this kind of life. Winter is often a time for reflection – as in the secular tradition of the ‘new year’s resolution’ – and perhaps that makes it a good time to ask whether we are living up to these goals. The answer is probably ‘no’ – I know I’m not – but asking the question can illuminate areas which can be worked on, where the next step can be found. What does an upright and godly life look like today? I’ve a hunch that it’s one which is ecologically sustainable, minds resources – money and otherwise – carefully, but is sometimes willing to do something a bit wild in a flurry of generosity or to make a stand.

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