Early on Christmas morning, I let the dogs out, fed them their breakfast, grabbed a cup of coffee, and turned on the TV. I expected to find the news on. Instead, a local church was broadcasting their Christmas Eve service from the previous night. The singers on the stage sang familiar carols, the orchestra played, the audience stood and swayed back and forth, some with hands raised toward heaven, celebrating the birth of a Savior.
After the last note was sung and the stage went black, the pastor spoke from a comfortable chair in a room somewhere within a television studio or maybe it was in the church; it’s 2020 after all. He was dressed casually in a half-zip, collared sweater, held a Bible, and predictably told the familiar story of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem. The pastor concluded with a call to salvation. For God so loved the world He gave His Son so that all who called upon the name of Jesus would be saved. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Nowhere in the pastor’s message did I hear all are worthy, all are acceptable unless they have tattoos, drink alcohol, smoke, have committed adultery, are gay, or divorced. And yet, once the words of the prayer of salvation are uttered, the church backs up it’s sin dump truck and dumps all the reasons why new converts are not acceptable. In my book, all means all, period. All does not mean some, just the acceptable, just the ones who conform to the rules of the church; all means all, period. That sounds like judgment to me. Jesus said He did not come to judge the world, He came to save it.
The Jews believe humans are born sinless and accumulate their own sins for which they are accountable. That makes more sense to me. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are two High Holy days practicing Jews celebrate. Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the New Year and the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe. It is also a time of remembering the creation of Adam and Eve and judgment day, the day when God judges the sins of the previous year, deciding what the upcoming year will bring. The results of judgment are written in the Book of Life. Yom Kippur concludes the 10 Days of Awe, a time devoted to repentance and renewal.
We are poised to celebrate the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. It doesn’t matter what our ethnicity, race, gender, gender orientation, or religion we practice. Even if we practice no religion at all, we are all part of the ‘all’ God refers to in John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” No qualifiers, not just the ‘good’ people, or those without sin, but all…..
Happy New Year!