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By Bill Kapp
Contributing Writer 

From the Pastor's Pen

 

January 4, 2018



By Bill Kapp

The First United Church of Christ, Sauk City

I used to play a game in confirmation class called, “Is it Law or Gospel?” The confirmation leader would mention a situation or event and the class had to decide if it was the daunting news of the law (something God requires of us) or the good news of the gospel (something God does for us).

For example, what about the exhortation “love one another”? Is this law or gospel? The answer is law, because it is something required of us. What about the words, “you are forgiven”? The answer is gospel, because it is something that is done for us through Jesus Christ.

The primary use of this law/gospel distinction is in the interpretation of Scripture. For the preacher and the reader it is important to know, “is God requiring something of me or freely giving me something in this text”? But law and gospel show up in our lives as well.

As we begin 2018, I’d like us to consider these law and gospel aspects. Is the coming of 2018 law or gospel for the Christian? It depends on how you think of it. If a new year is a fresh start, a new beginning, then you probably think the start of the year is “good news” at least in the general sense.

There are, however, law aspects to a new year. Many people start a new year off with resolutions, something they require of themselves, something to do. Many people fear what will come, worrying they won’t meet their goals, or that the next year will fall short of their expectations.

More specifically for the Christian, we see both law and gospel elements to a new year. As Christians, considering anew what God requires of us is appropriate as we enter a new year. Have we been attending worship? How is our prayer life? Are we reading God’s Word? These are law questions, but important ones as Christians, and a new year is a good time to ask them.

All of us will have different answers to those questions, but we all share in the fact that those answers will be insufficient, which is why we also take note of the gospel aspects of a new year. 2018 will be another year as a baptized child of God. 2018 will be another year where God offers us God’s grace in Word and Sacrament. 2018 will be another year of God’s forgiveness covering our sins. Most exciting of all, 2018 may just be the year where we are able to exemplify all that God wants us to be.

May God bless you in 2018 and always. With the greatest of hope!

 
 

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