January 1st has a trio of scripture passages layered on it. There is, of course, New Years Day – a time to sit back and reflect on the old year and look forward to what the new year will bring. The hopes, wishes and resolution that we bring.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8)
What a time we have had this year. When 2020 dawned we could not clearly see or foresee what the year would bring. We quickly learned, and grew to fear. But fear gave way to resolve, and with resolve we set our course. And here we are at the end of the year – lessons learned, and with our strength and hope in the Divine we move into the new year.
“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” (Verses 9 – 13)
The writer of Ecclesiastes is not the type of optimist one could hope for. But he is a realist. And realism has been an overarching theme this year. Realism keeps us grounded, and hope & faith allows us to move through what is before towards what we hope will come.
January 1st is also Holy Name of Jesus, a day when we consider that Jesus was not just a baby born to a couple in unusual circumstances. But that Jesus would grow into the Savior that was needed. We celebrate this not only for the fact that Jesus grew into his Divine heritage but that the power of the name of Jesus has done, and still does, miraculous things.
“After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” (Luke 2:21)
Each year I check and double check that I have presented this day, and other feast days, accurately and correctly. The Revised Common Lectionary sees fit to assign specific scripture to the day. And while I may sometimes wonder how to present it correctly, I always feel that at the end of have been inspired by something beyond myself. And that, beloved reader, is something to celebrate and praise the Divine for!
“O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:1 – 2)
And in my cycle of writing this day, Friday, means I am presenting the Gospel Passage.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1: 1 – 5)
There is an expression – simple yet with depth of meaning. When someone says something that has truth and integrity, you reply “Word”. I thought of that when I read these opening verses. Jesus said He was the Truth, and of course Integrity. And He was “the Word.” A good thing to remember as we go into the New Year.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (Verses 6 – 9)
That could be a mission statement for 2021 – to testify to the Light. 2020 seemed to be such a year of darkness; yet there were so many stories of the Light of the Divine shining through, even those who lived out the story may not have attributed it to the Divine. But still, that was so true – Word.
“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (Verses 10 – 13)
After getting through 2020, I am even more convinced than any time before that the Divine will in 2021. I am not predicting any Judgment Day event or anything like that. I am just saying that the Divine’s Providence that saw us through 2020 will most surely be there in 2021.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” (Verses 14 – 18)
“The Word became flesh” . . . If we would hand over our lives to the Lord God, what do suppose might happen? The disciples/apostles did marvelous and miraculous things through the power of God. I am asking you, beloved reader, in 2021 to allow the Lord God the Divine to work through you. Nay, not just allow but ask the Divine to work through you. Just imagine (although it is probably beyond our imagination!) what could happen in the New Year. I am excited about the possibilities and prospects! Shalom & Selah!