Repent! The New Year Has Arrived!

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Sat, 01/01/2022 - 09:19

Just like any other January 1st, I wake up and think, “Now what?” What will make this year different than last year? It doesn’t start with resolutions to be better. It starts thinking differently. The basic call to repentance is a call to “change how we think” about the world. So, let’s think differently this year.

Here at Be Transfigured Ministries, our motto is, “Live A New Life In Christ” so that we can always be reminded that Christ came to renew life, not end it. If we are going to think differently this year, let’s start with a renewed idea of Church.

At that time, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. – Luke 2.20-21, 40-52

Today is the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. It has been eight days since we celebrated Christmas, and the Gospel recalls two stories of Christ’s childhood. What sticks in my mind today, also the first day of the New Year, is Christ’s words, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” If we are going to be like Christ, which is why we are called Christians in the first place, we should share the same desire.

Christ didn’t NEED to be in the Temple, meaning He wasn’t obligated to be there. He had an internal need, a calling if you will to be in the Temple. He was so drawn to His Father’s House, that He couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in that moment. We all have had similar experiences when we just felt with HAD to be somewhere or with someone. We weren’t obligated, but the urge was so strong we could no longer ignore it.

That is the sort of draw God wants us to feel in His House. It is why He commanded for the Temple to be built in the first place. He promised His people, that includes us, that He would be there waiting for us to meet with us. It is the reason we build Churches today, so we have a place to meet with God.

So, let’s take this New Year as an opportunity to Repent! Let’s change the way we think about Church. Stop thinking about Church as an obligation. Start thinking about Church as a place where you can be with God, sitting with Him and talking with Him. Start thinking about Church as a place where your soul so strongly wants to be, that you can no longer ignore it. Then when one of your friends asks where you’ve been, you can use the words of Christ, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s House?”

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