~ An Old Faith, a New Year~
“God has made everything suitable for its time;
moreover God has put a sense of past and future into their minds…”
Dear Members and Friends,
A mildly amusing “meme” on Facebook shows Moira Rose, a well-known, melodramatic character from a popular sitcom—a show with a name too vulgar to mention here! She has an exaggerated look of panic and dismay on her overly-painted face as she clutches a kitten to her chest. A caption reads: “The moment you realize that 2022 is pronounced 2020 too.” Another meme says: “Nobody claim 2022 as ‘your year’. We’re all gonna walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. Be cautious and respectful. Don’t touch anything.” If I’m being honest, I found 2020 easier to take than 2021! In 2020, at least we lived with the constant belief that the pandemic would draw to a speedy conclusion. (I also got weekends free for the first time in my adult life.) 2021 disabused us of the belief that the pandemic would be short-lived, and it did so without mercy and without fanfare.
Oxford Languages—the publisher of various dictionaries—named “vax” its word of the year for 2021. It’s a word that usually appears in other forms, such as “vaxxed” and “anti-vaxxers.” Hardly a glorious legacy for 2021. And yet, the passing year did leave us its share of parting blessings. Even as we celebrate the arrival of the New Year, it’s appropriate to pause and take stock of the many joys that 2021 afforded us. What have they been for you?
The quote at the top of this page is from the poetic-if-doubt-filled book of Ecclesiastes. It’s sometimes translated as, “God has made all things beautiful in their time.” I like this second translation a little better, for it implies that even things that start off less than beautiful (liver & onions, dragonflies, newborns) can become quite appealing. It just takes the necessary amount of time for them to get there—and heat, too, in the case of liver. This suggests that if you and I are faithful and constant, then even these times of extremism, polarization, pandemic, and overall societal malaise will also bear their beautiful fruits. But that’s been said many times. Another question is in order: If God makes everything suitable for its time, does God makes everyone suitable for their times, too? That’s to say, yes, these are troubled times in which we live. Most of us are hoping that they will open swiftly onto better days. But we have been shaped by these times, even as we have shaped them. Have we not been formed especially for this hour, to meet its unique challenges, to apply our ancient and timeless faith to the day in which we live? We have been fashioned for the days that have been assigned to us and given the resources to turn them toward the glory of God and the betterment of humanity. We were meant for these days; they were meant for us. At the risk of sounding trite or simplistic, I’m going to say: I think we’ve got this! With courage and with hope, you and God—together you’ve got this…
Let us hold steadfastly to the faith that has brought us this far, and trust that the One who held all our yesterdays still holds our tomorrows. All joy and blessings to you in 2022! Let it be a year of new insights, and of healing, and of new life.
In Christ’ Peace,