Generation to Generation

Mother, teenager, and child
Photo credit:<a href="">Mckay Savage</a>

1 John 2:12-14

I’m writing to you, kids, because what he did made your future possible.
I’m writing to you, parents, because you’ve met him in the past.
I’m writing to you, youth, because you have overcome evil.

I’m writing to you, kids, because you know God.
I’m writing to you, parents, because you’ve met him in the past.
I’m writing to you, youth, because you’re strong, because you’ve got the idea living in you, and you have overcome evil.

As we contemplate the beginning of a new year, we may do well to reflect on this passage’s affirmations of future, past, and present.

Each generation has something to contribute: the children to the future possibilities, the parents to the personal remembrance of where the community has been in touch with its source of life, and the youth to the strength for doing the work right now.

Perhaps many communities that are struggling are having trouble, in part, because they’ve forgotten the order of things. The elder generation is trying to do it all while the children are coddled rather than challenged, and the youth are ignored.

It takes tremendous strength of character for a community, whether it’s a religious one or some other kind, to keep it’s generational house in order. But every community’s success in the new year will depend on its being able to do so.

Choose Happiness

woman holding book and robot doll
Photo credit: <a href="">Tara Hunt</a>

1 John 2:7-11

Dearest friends, what I’m writing to you isn’t anything new. It’s the same instruction you’ve always had. It’s the same idea you’ve heard before. Or, maybe it is a new instruction, but it’s nevertheless the truth: true for him, true for you. The night is over, and the true dawn is already breaking. Whoever says, “I’m enlightened,” but hates a brother or sister, isn’t. They’re in the dark. People leading enlightened lives love. Such people won’t trip you up. But a hater is in the dark. Haters live in the dark, blinded and lost.

Someone once said that there are two kinds of people: there are the kind of people who divide people into two kinds of people, and there’s everybody else.

John is the first kind. Chances are we’ve all had some experience in both camps, as lovers and haters. One of the complicated aspects of being human is that people have the capacity for both. But, it may be possible to discern that people are bent or predisposed toward one direction or the other. And some cases are more clear than others.

In the final analysis, though, lovers win. Haters can make lovers’ lives miserable for a time, even a long time. But if you’re really a lover, you’ll find things to love in spite of the haters, and the joy that comes with loving is its own reward. And since it comes from within, the haters can’t ever really take it away.

But the closest haters can come to joy is a passing glee that needs constantly to be regenerated from the outside. The only laughter, the kind that comes at someone else’s expense. Which is why, no matter how much stuff some folks collect, no matter how obliging the people around them, or how great their empire, they’re still dissatisfied, restless, and mean.

Enlightenment is a choice. Happiness is a choice. They are both consequences of a choice one makes (and making it is a continuous act) about how to dispose your heart.

You Can Do It

Jesus van
Photo credit: <a href="">Marshall Astor</a>

1 John 2:1-6

My little children, I’m writing these things so you won’t continue to mess up. But, if anyone does mess up, we have someone to help us patch things up with God: Jesus. He’s a righteous dude, and he’s laid it all on the line to make things right with us again. And not just for us, but for absolutely everyone.

Here’s how to be sure you know Jesus: do what he says. Whoever says, “I know Jesus,” but doesn’t do what he says is lying. That person is faking his or her religion. But whoever is doing what Jesus says is really, truly ok with God. So, if you want to know how to be with Jesus, and whoever wants to say “I’m with Jesus,” – just do as he did.

It’s just that simple.

It doesn’t matter what your theology is. It doesn’t matter what you call yourself. Either you’re doing what Jesus did. Or you’re not.

And absolutely anyone can do what Jesus did. Jesus put it all on the line to prove it. If a nobody from the dirt-poor classes in an occupied territory can do it, certainly you can. You, who are sitting there reading this with more technological power in your smartphone than what was originally installed on the space shuttle.

Surely, you can do it. Surely, you can put yourself on the line like Jesus did. To participate in healing the nations (starting with your own nation) and making the world’s people free.

And if you do, John’s letter says, you’ll be alright with God. It’s just that simple.

[Bonus: Here’s a little song to help you get going with it.]


Confession: More than Just a Sacrement

girl in mirror
Photo credit: <a href="">Helga Weber</a>

1 John 1:5-10

Here’s the message we got from Jesus and pass on to you:

God is light. There is nothing whatsoever dark about God.

If we say we’re with God while hiding our conduct in the dark, we’re lying. Our actions are false. But if we conduct ourselves in the light full disclosure, we’re together, and Jesus’ blood will take care of whatever’s wrong.

If we say nothing’s wrong, we’re fooling ourselves. We’re lying. If we admit to what is wrong, Jesus’ commitment to fairness will forgive us and make us right again.

If we say there’s nothing wrong, though, we make Jesus out to be a liar. We’ve missed the point.

‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions.

Lots of people don’t bother with them, of course. They’re too easy to break by the end of the day January 2. But who doesn’t want to do better?

The first step to doing better, to making things right, is to admit that there’s something wrong.

It’s in nearly every 12-step program: “Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Confession, real no holds barred confession, is good not just for the soul, but for the body, the mind, and even for the people around you (who probably know something’s up anyway).

I’m not saying you have to go through some formal procedure. Or that you should tell your pastor or priest, or whoever is officially in charge in your faith tradition. Or that you should tell-all indiscriminately. But really, honestly, you know when you’re hiding something. And you know who you’re hiding it from. Possibly, though, you’re really hiding it mostly from yourself.

So go ahead, make some New Year’s resolutions. Start with this one:

“I will not hide anything from myself.”

And a second is like unto it:

“I will conduct myself in the light of full disclosure.”