The power of seduction

The power of seduction

Christmas and New Year Letter

Psalm 1

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

 

It is so easy to be seduced by the world. Easy to over-indulge in whatever takes our fancy. Easy to ignore the signs until it’s too late and all too easy to become a hardened cynic who finds the very idea of God coming to humanity in Jesus all a bit too difficult to swallow.

 

Psalm 1 is the doorway into all the Psalms and the beauty of the language, the pictures, the metaphors the depth of the lyrics, as well as the beating heart of the writer. Here he starts by saying there is so much that is wrong in the world. So many who refuse to acknowledge God and mock. It is an all too familiar picture of humanity living out of step with The Lord.

 

The “law” is scripture, “meditating” is to think out the implications of God’s word for all life and “delight in the law” means not merely to comply out of a sense of duty. It means to love what God commands and seek to live life somehow in rhythm with God. As a Christian it means for me, a change in my attitude from one of self-seeking to one of self-giving.

 

His gift to us is his Son Jesus Christ; born in a stable, died on a cross, who rose again for us. My gift to God as unworthy, faulty and broken as it might very well be, is to meditate on his word and delight in him, because that is the secret to a good relationship with God and to life itself. It looks back upon God’s word (lower case = scripture) but it also looks forward in God’s Word (Upper case = Jesus).

 

Unlike a Christmas tree cut down and decorated as a representation of the coming of Christ, a tree that loses its needles and is unable to drink water, there is a much more resilient tree. This tree is planted by the river, soaking up living water that will never dry up. It is a picture of a living relationship with God. So the Psalm and indeed Christmas goes on calling each one of us into new, living relationship with God.

 

Immanuel, God with us. Mysterious, spiritual, loving and yet challenging. No wonder we prefer to be seduced by the world, it’s so much easier. The birth of Jesus may draw us to wonder at heaven touching earth, but will we also, like the star drew the Magi to seek out Christ and bow down and worship him, journey to Christ and allow God’s word to draw us, guide us and sustain us until our journey’s end?

 

I wish you a very blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Nigel Chapman

Vicar of Filey

 

(Adapted from a reflection by Timothy Keller in ‘My Rock my Refuge’)