And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Dear Auburn Family and Friends,
Here in Minnesota we are counting down the days until spring arrives. 32 days to go! In the church calendar, we have an unusually long period between Christmas and Lent this year. Easter is late, April 17th, which means that Ash Wednesday isn’t until March 2nd. In turn, that means we are still in the season of Epiphany in the church calendar. I have to admit that Epiphany is one of my favorite seasons, even though it is relatively unknown.
Epiphany is the time after Christ’s birth before we celebrate Christ’s Transfiguration and move into the Lenten season.
Epiphany is a time of awe and wonder, a time where we look for and intentionally celebrate the light of Christ in this world and in our lives. These words above from John’s Gospel remind us of what Christ brings us in his glory: grace and truth. Epiphany is a time of revelation, of “aha” moments, a time of joy as we bask in the light of Christ.
When I think of what it means for us that Jesus Christ was the Word made flesh who lived among us, I find I am grateful for his gifts of grace and truth. Grace is a gift it is easy to be thankful for. Wikipedia offers one pretty clear way to define grace: “a spontaneous gift from God to people – ‘generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved’ – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_in_Christianity). Clearly, grace is a wonderful gift from God, for which we are grateful!
Truth, the Gospel tells us, is also a gift from God. One definition of truth is: “the actual state of a matter, an adherence to reality, or an indisputable fact” (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/truth). Humanity sometimes finds ourselves a little less grateful for truth than we are for grace. As Jack Nicholson famously said in “A Few Good Men,” many people “can’t handle the truth.” Truth can conflict with our desires, it can conflict with our perspectives, and it can feel relative at times. We have to dig deep to get at the truth in many circumstances. Yet it is always worth the effort to discern the truth. In John 8:31-32, Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Dwelling in God’s word allows us to discern truth.
One of my favorite Valentine’s Day stories is about truth. When I was in elementary school I loved Valentine’s Day. I loved that everyone got the same number of Valentine’s in school, I loved the chocolate, I loved people. It was perfect!
One year my parents got chocolate pudding from Byerly’s deli (not made from a powder…delicious!) to have as a special dessert Valentine’s evening. I woke up before everyone else on Valentine’s Day that year and realized that I could sneak downstairs, eat some of that pudding, and nobody would ever know the difference. Or so I thought! I was usually a pretty truthful child, but the allure of that good chocolate pudding was too much for me to resist. I ate a couple of healthy spoonfuls, smoothed the pudding over so nobody could tell some was missing, and then settled down to read a book until everyone woke up.
The first thing my parents always did was give us a little gift for the holiday, which was a pretty pink satin hair bow this particular year. After my sister and I had opened these, my mom kind of paused, looked at me, and said, “Jenny, do you have anything you’d like to tell us?” Well, my mostly truthful heart panicked. I thought, “how could she know I ate the pudding? I should just tell her that I didn’t have anything to share! But maybe I should just tell the truth. That’s always better in the end.”
So I said, sheepishly, “Well, I ate some chocolate pudding this morning.” There was a heavy silence. Then my parents burst out laughing! I was confused, to say the least. Finally, my mom caught her breath and said, “I am so glad you told us the truth. You have chocolate pudding all over your lips!” Was I ever glad I had told the truth.
Truth is as great a gift as grace. It requires hard work, but it is hard work done in the light of Christ. When we dwell in Christ and his Word, we receive grace and truth, which gives us the strength to speak the truth.
I am grateful for each of you who make up this Auburn community. As we dwell in the light of Christ’s grace and truth, may we be strengthened to do his work and share his love with the world.
In the Spirit of Christ’s Love,