LEAven Blog


I Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  But I would like to present five points to contemplate as we enter a new calendar year. I will couple a concept for your consideration with a word found in my favorite hymn, Thy Strong Word

“Thy strong word did cleave the darkness” – To cleave…we know this means to split, to break open.  I have heard that there is also a sense that the split occurs at a natural point of weakness. Darkness seems strong; but, God has powerfully, yet easily, opened the darkness.  In floods the redeeming, life sustaining light! God has accomplished this powerful work by sending His Son to be our Savior.  On the cross, Jesus cleaves the darkness of sin, bathing us in the light of His grace. We move forward to be His darkness-cleaving agents in a world darkened by sin.

“Glorious now we press toward glory” – Glorious!  We are considered glorious!  This is not a description of ourselves that we would dare ever make based on our own self-evaluation.  When we are honest with ourselves, especially in the light of God’s holy Law, we recognize that we are not glorious by our own works or abilities.  We are glorious ONLY because “Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous, bright with Thine own holiness.” God’s Word incarnate went to the cross, and the verdict spoken by and in His Word is that we are glorious as we reflect the light of the One who died and rose for us.

“From the cross forever beameth all Thy bright redeeming light.”  Beaming. The cross seems like a place of weakness and dimness.  There, in the natural working of things, strength and life diminish, breath by agonizing breath, until they are gone. This foreshadows what should have been our own miserable end as sinners separated from God.  But, in God’s order of things, in the midst of Jesus’ physical weakness on the cross, the glorious light of forgiveness, salvation, and life, doesn’t just glow dimly.  It doesn’t just shine sporadically.  It beams!  There is power, strength, and a holy piercing brightness that facilitates our spiritual rescue leading us from death to life.

“May the light which Thou dost send fill our songs with alleluias, alleluias without end!” Fill.  We ask God not just to give us a few words of praise.  In this hymn verse, and in our lives, we ask Him for an abundance of alleluias. Why? Because those alleluias beam forth from the light of salvation which cleaves the darkness! The change in our lives, and the hope for our eternity have been drastically altered for the better; therefore, we want to praise God in lavish abundance!

“Holy Spirit, light-revealer, glory, glory be to Thee!” Light-revealer.  We are reminded again, as we heard in Sunday School, confirmation class, adult Bible Class and elsewhere, “I believe I cannot by my own reason or strength come to (Jesus); but, the Holy Spirit has enlightened me with the Gospel…”  It is the Spirit of God who comes to us and reveals the truth of God’s love, grace, and mercy.  …and so, He calls on us to be His instruments of grace as light-revealers in our sin darkened world. “Thy Strong Word,” Martin Franzmann (1907-1976). Copyright © 1969 Concordia Publishing House.

Rev. John Greene grew up in north central Florida. He has earned a B.A. from Concordia University-Texas, an MDiv. from Concordia Seminary - St. Louis, MO, and a M.A.T. from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. He has one son, Adam, who is presently in Optometry School. John and his wife Nancy (Adams) live in St. Louis. John’s interests, along with ministry and education, include music, coaching athletics, and shortwave radio listening.

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