Solemnity is not a word we use much anymore. I like words like this. It forces us to look it up and remember what it means. It is a word that speaks to being solemn; to be “grave, sober,” “serious or earnest.” While I would recommend we live in this state, there are times when solemnity is required.
As a Christian and more so as a minister of the Gospel, there is a balance I feel I must maintain. A balance between the exuberant joys of salvation and the humility inducing weight of repentance. You cannot have one without the other. Both of these are realities of the Christian experience. I would even say necessary realities.
One of the primary problems I see is, too often, we do not want to remember the fact that we are still flawed and mending people. Yes, we are broken, but if we believe the Gospel we are being healed every day from the wounds of sin, both our own and those of others. We are being restored back to the way we should have been before the fall. We are being conformed into the glorious image of Jesus Christ. We are flawed, but we should see ourselves being mended.
And at the very same time, we should never be so cavalier as to think that God’s grace should distort the ugliness of who we would be without him! Grace covers our sin, but it does not erase the memory of its effects. In fact, sin is still present in the world. It is all around us. So, just because we have personally experienced freedom in Christ, does not mean that we are not confronted with the damaging results of sin in the world in which we must live.
For me, the idea of solemnity takes shape in a two-fold concern. First, I am concerned with my own heart. Do I rejoice in God’s grace because I recognize what that grace has saved me from? Or do I just enjoy God’s grace without any lingering sense of what it cost to obtain it? The first is gospel-focused. The latter is inconsistent with the Gospel.
Second, I am concerned with the world in which I must continue and finish my race. The grace I have received should motivate me to become one of those Jesus spoke about in Luke 10.
1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:1-2 ESV, emphasis added)
I am one of the laborers. Any and every person who has heard the Gospel of Jesus and believed is a laborer. We may not all do the same work, but the harvest is bigger and present in more places than we could ever imagine.
But, it will take a degree of solemnity to see it and be moved to act. I pray we will do better at participating in the harvest Jesus said is waiting to be gathered.