The year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy, and it is time for yet another picture of old “Father Time” and his reaper. Nineteen seventy, and “Father Time” is pushed aside by the infant new year (looking suspiciously like a kewpie doll).
Nineteen seventy, and the world erupts in frenzied celebration as the delayed fuse of midnight passes from time zone to time zone. Wild parties, wild drinking, wild sinning: A new year dawns.
For God’s people, the new year brings, not insane partying, but quiet reflection. For God’s people, it is a time of joining together with praise and prayer in God’s house.
What a contrast! There is seldom a time when the diametric opposition of Church and world is more obvious. Yet, if the separate position of the Church is seen only at New Year’s the Church is not separate, but melded into the world.
It is a time of reflection, of self-analysis of New Year’s resolution to be “better”. Often we promise ourselves to strive toward some goal of perfection, overlooking the fact that it is also our manner of striving toward the goal that needs correction.
However, lest we jump ahead with all good intention and little forethought, we must be constantly aware that it is not we who strive, but God Who works in us the will to do the right.
With this in mind, let us take a brief look at ourselves.
Our lives are played out today in a world of hurry. To be a success by the world’s standards, you have to be a hustler. We are supposedly duty-bound to spend our “free time” having fun, so that we return exhausted from vacations. We hurry to work, hurry home, hurry to play, hurry to society, hurry to church, hurry to school, hurry to live and hurry to die. We rush around frantically, and “rest” in front of the hypnotic television. Books? Study? They might interrupt our rest in front of TV! We are living our lives at a dead run, stumbling over the trivia in which we are sadly tangled.
Yet, now it is New Year’s Day again. It is time to think, to take stock of ourselves. We do live in an accelerated age, and to ignore this fact is to be non-functional. It is not wrong to be busy (though we all have different levels of busyness), in fact, if we are often idle, we are sinning. Yet it is not right to be unconsciously busy. To work for the sake of working, to hurry for the sake of hurrying, to reach for and live by the world’s standards is to be enmeshed in trivia. To live as a busy Christian, we must live as aware Christians. Not to live as an aware Christian, is to be no better than the world, and but little better than a vegetable.
Another year is dawning. It is a year of hope tinged with the fear of the unknown. It is a year met with confidence by the Christian. We know that, no matter what the trials, no matter what the glories may be, the hand of the Lord is ever near to shelter and guide. It is another year, another step closer to glory.
Another year is dawning. The world hails the new year as a clean slate, an unblemished record, a time of new beginnings…and drinks itself silly as the first entry on this “clean” slate. It is a new year, a time of looking at life realistically. The aware Christian knows that the record of life is not wiped clean merely by a changing calendar date. He knows that man does not change, that life cannot be lived without the taint of sin. Yet, an aware Christian feels the presence of God in himself. He feels the sense of renewal that comes from joining together with God’s own at the beginning of a new year, and the feeling of awareness which comes from joining with the Church at the end of the old year.
Another year is dawning, another page turned in the Book of Life. By God’s grace we shall be better people in it, by God’s grace we shall be yet another step toward glory.
By God’s grace…how often do we live in an awareness of this grace? Are we not also enmeshed in the trivia of this world? Are we Christians or vegetables? Christ said that the Christian could be found by the works which he did. Are we easily spotted against the night of the world? Sometimes it seems that we are enmeshed in the trivia of this world, instead of being busy in the Lord’s glory.
What then, sets the busy Christian apart from the frantic world-man? Primarily, it is his motivation. The Spirit of God rules in the heart and mind of the Christian, leading him into right paths, toward true goals.
In matter of course, the Christian man carries within him an awareness of why he does all things. He functions in an alert state, able to discriminate between what glorifies God in a Christian, and what tarnishes His name in the eyes of the world. Not only can an aware Christian differentiate between right and wrong, he can also center his life to best use his talents to God’s glory, while fulfilling his obligations to Church and family.
Using his talents, fulfilling his obligations to God’s glory, being a Christian in walk is but a part of the whole. The world is characterized by the frantic nature of its busyness; the Church by its pervading calm. Though we are busy in the Lord, we are not frantic. Our pursuits, varied though they may be, are purpose filled, for they are to God’s glory. We have God in us.
Another year is dawning, another step toward glory. For some of us it will be but a brief step, and it will cause earthly sadness. For others, it will be but one of many steps onward.
Let this new year bring with it a heightened awareness, a closer walk as God’s children. Let us remember always to walk as though God were right beside us (as He very really is).
May we welcome the new year with the greeting: BLESSED NEW YEAR, MAY YOU WALK WITH GOD!
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 9 January 1970