Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. (Hebrews 13:12)
What does it mean to be sanctified? We read the term in our Bibles and hear it echoed in church, but what does it mean?
Sanctification is the process of God drawing us closer. God meets us where we are, but God loves us too much to leave us that way. Sanctification is the way that God is working in our lives to pull us more closely to God. Sanctification is a process, a lifelong journey, and one that we only finish when our lives on earth are done.
In my life, as for many prisoners, the biggest stumbling blocks on my journey with God have been over issues of forgiveness. Learning how to truly forgive the people in my life for things done, or not done, was hard. But it is an easy task compared to learning how to accept forgiveness for what I myself have done. Learning to accept this priceless gift transforms everything. Most importantly it paves the way for us to be able to forgive ourselves. This is not the empty ‘forgive and forget’ kind of forgiveness that the world plays around with. The forgiveness of God is an all encompassing forgiveness, one that knows each and every one of our wrongs, acknowledges them, and loves us beyond them.
Part of the process of sanctification is finding ways to know and to acknowledge our past, while being free to enter into new life in God. I am daily aware of what I have done, and I can allow it to help shape who I am. More importantly though, I remain constantly aware of the Sanctifying Grace of God that has forgiven me and lifted me into new life.
To bring this gift to all of us, the beloved children of God, is one of the reasons Christ came to us. It is one of our Christmas gifts.
To you this night is born a child of Mary, chosen virgin mild; this newborn child of lowly birth shall be the joy of all the earth. (Hymn 80)