Saturday, November 7, 2009

Doing the Work of a Christian

Each day we are given the opportunity to live lives of renewed purpose. The gift of each morning begs to be received with joy, for it is a new day in which to pray to God, grow in his knowledge and love, serve our brothers and sisters, and delight in the good things the Lord has made. In some very real sense, the fullness of Christianity is found in this fundamental outlook, this basic attitude which greets life as a supreme gift, a continuous possibility for becoming more like Christ.

In November, we begin the month with the great Feast of All the Saints. These holy people form that “great cloud of witnesses” who intercede for us and show us that human lives are capable of shining with God’s goodness, mercy, and transformative power. The Saints – both the well-known and the little-known – encourage us to take our own lives more seriously, to realize our own calling to become the Holy People of God in our own day, our own circle of activity and contact.

As the month progresses, we recall our basic loyalty to Christ as King; all of the other obligations, priorities, and relationships in our lives must be under that banner: if they are not, our lives will be out of balance, and our capability to hear God’s word to us will be impaired. The communities we are part of desperately need us to be “on message” in the Gospel; this begins with a profound commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior, not “just another priority.”

Then comes the great Holy Day of Thanksgiving: yes, a “Holy Day.” This Prayer Book Feast is an annual reminder that all we have is, in fact, a gift from God. Once a year we make this crystal-clear by devoting an entire day to it. It is a good day to prepare for by thinking of those blessings we most take for granted, and those challenges which make us rely on God more deeply. When we do these things, we are more compassionate, more grateful, and need less “stuff” in order to be happy – for we are secure in the embrace of God. People secure in that embrace are much less likely to become fearful, greedy, and judging.

Doing the work of a Christian starts by being part of Christ’s Body, the Church, in worship and in study of the Scriptures and the Faith. It starts there, but it never stays there. It proceeds to service, witness, and a very special attitude about life: all has been given to us by God; we hold it in trust. The more we share, the more we have; the less we demand, the more we are given. Doing the work of a Christian frees us to be fully alive to God and to each other. It is what we were created for, what a recession-wracked and fearful world needs but does not understand, and what Our Lord made possible.

Today is a new day, a gift from God; let us do the work we have been given in peace and thanksgiving, knowing that we are loved and blessed by the Lord as his children.

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