Friday, January 3, 2020

Celtic Mythology and Aging Prophets

Suggested Reading: Luke 2:25-35

For Christmas a few years ago, my daughter got the movie Brave. I am a fan of Celtic mythology and this movie surprised me with the number of Celtic elements that were skillfully included in the script. The central theme of the movie, however, revolved around the ability to change fate. Merida, the young princess at the center of the story, wanted to change her mother’s mind about an impending arranged marriage so she found a witch who gave her a spell to change her mother. As usual in these movies, the spell had unforeseen side-effects, which is what sets up the rest of the movie. But the desire to change one’s fate is a common one. That desire shows up again and again in our movies because it resonates with us. We despise the idea of being tied to a particular fate with nothing we can do to change it, especially because we so often see our lives heading in directions we fear. We fear we will be trapped in dead ends, stuck with jobs we hate, tied to people we loath, or simply drifting far below our potential. We understand the desire to change our fate.

When Jesus’ parents took him to the temple to redeem him, as was required for all firstborn children in Israel, they were approached by an elderly man named Simeon. Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Seeing Jesus, Simeon took the baby in his arms. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35, NIV). Simeon prophetically proclaimed that Jesus would change the fates of many in Israel. But we know that Jesus’ fate changing was not limited to Israel.

From an eternal perspective, we understand that Jesus can transform a hell-bound sinner into a Kingdom bound saint. But Jesus doesn’t wait until the end of our lives to transform our destiny. Jesus can transform a bitter heart, bound for cynicism and suffering, into a forgiving heart that attracts loving friends. Jesus’ Spirit can empower the most incompetent soul, creating a person who is both skillful and powerful in the work of the Kingdom.  Jesus came to change our fates.

Paul understood this principle when he wrote to the Corinthians. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not –to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:26-29, NIV). God upset fate.

If you feel yourself trapped to begin the new year, if you feel like your fate is set and you can do nothing to change it, remember that Jesus came to upset destiny, to change our fates. Seek God’s face, listen for the guidance of the Spirit, allow that Spirit to empower you far beyond what you could accomplish on your own. Whatever your fate appears to be, Jesus came to change it.   

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