It seems that we ought to be singing and merry-making at the beginning of a new year. And certainly we want to do so; however, there is so much in the world which stresses us, worries us, things which we are unable to comprehend and are so troubling that we forget the joy of the arrival of the Christ-child and return to thoughts of doom and gloom. Of course, it doesnâ€™tâ€™ help much that this is the darkest time of the year, right? So where do we find light?
Here is a Canticle of Light and Darkness:
We look for light but find darkness,
For brightness, but walk in gloom.
We grope like those who have no eyes;
We stumble at noon as in the twilight.
Blessed be your name, O God, for ever.
You reveal deep and mysterious things;
You are light and in you is no darkness.
Our darkness is passing away
And already the true light is shining.
Perhaps there is another reason why we ought to celebrate, which partially has something to do with our need to put disappointments and fears behind us. I agree that this past year was certainly not the easiest for any of us?no matter where in the world you make your home. Wars, terrorism and anti-terrorism, the ongoing crisis in the Middle East have weighed on us all in one way or another. As we go into the new year, the future still doesn’t look very bright. We are standing at the metaphorical crossroads in more than one way. We have so many questions as a nation to deal with: What about the war in Iraq? What about the problem of global warming? How do we deal with the increasing number of nations with nuclear power and bombs? And so forth. These donâ€™t even mention the increasing number of people with AIDS – especially in Africa, the question of marriage or civil unions for homosexuals, and so many more concerns that even include the â€˜health and growthâ€™ of our congregation. Nevertheless, even in the midst of this tumult of questions, breaks the words: “Blessed be your name.” I for one want to embrace a positive stance and pray for God to break through in our personal life, in our church, in our country and, yes, even in the world. No matter how bleak things may look, we Christians are founded on finding comfort and hope in the knowledge that God is and will be with us through all that happens. When things look bad I sometimes find myself humming a song I loved to sing during my childhood years: “He’s got the whole world in His hand.” Perhaps what we need in these anxious times is to picture as we once did when we were kids, the big hand of God holding the entire globe in great big, and very capable hands. Perhaps this is the mark of the childlike faith Jesus talked about–one that simply trusts and believes in the goodness and omnipotence of our heavenly Parent. Let us, therefore, be encouraged to look to the new year with confidence – not in ourselves, nor in the goodness of humankind, but in the goodness and grace of God.
New year’s greetings and best wishes from your pastor and friend,