We await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own,
eager to do what is good.
If we happen to catch a few of those Christmas shows and movies, and if our hearts are moved when George Bailey comes home having realized the value of life and see the redemption of Mr. Gower (It’s A Wonderful Life), when Kris Kringle speaks to the Dutch girl and delivers the X-ray machine to the hospital, and renews the faith of Doris and Susan Walker (Miracle on 34th Street), when the Grinch’s heart grows, when the soldiers return in honor and respect for General Waverly and to give him themselves as a Christmas gift (White Christmas) we realize the coldness of the world and worldly has not entered in or taken hold of our lives.
Watching these movies each year reassures my heart because I allow it to be moved. It shows me a people who through some unfortunate occurrence lost confidence in the salvation brought to the fore this very night. Blessedly, they regained it through the witness of people of faith. It gives me confidence that Jesus still holds unto me and to us. It reminds me of my blessed hope in spite of all things.
In tonight’s Epistle Paul is writing to Titus, not someone we hear a lot about. Titus was the first Bishop of Crete, that small Mediterranean island that lies between Athens and Rhodes.
At the time of this writing Titus needed confidence because he was charged with developing the Church in Crete, a place Paul had never visited. There is a lot in the letter about the organization of the Church, differing groups of people and their roles and responsibilities and how they are to grow in faith, and as we hear this evening reminders for how the grace and love of God that appeared in Jesus Christ should cause us all to live and act, eager to do what is good. His grace and love are meant for the constant renewal of our confidence in God’s love and goodness.
What is key for us to understand is Titus, the people of Crete, and Paul himself were living confidently in the fresh experience of Jesus’ coming. The Messiah, Emmanuel, had come to save those who would believe and that was already past tense. They, having experienced the redemptive sacrifice of Christ awaited His return. We likewise await His rebirth in our hearts. For those people of Crete, and us, it all comes down to how we live in confidence as redeemed, saved, delivered, cleansed people who belong to Jesus.
Today, tomorrow, and always let us allow the experience of Jesus’ coming live anew in us. Let His redemptive sacrifice fill our hearts with thankfulness and true joy – the confidence of redeemed, saved, delivered, and cleansed people who belong to Him.