1 John 3:2 (New Living Translation)
“Yes, dear friends, we are already God's children, and we can't even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”
Another year has passed. Tonight Nancy and I will be celebrating the coming of the New Year with a group of friends who have been through the New Years’ rituals many times before. In our younger days most of us shed the old with drink and merriment, I think trying to drown out the hopeful expectations dashed by the year’s bitter realities. Tonight, though, we’ll be breaking bread, eating home made soup, reminiscing, sharing the aches and pains, and looking forward to a hope beyond the reality that so often drowns out that hope. It’s all part of another rite of passage, a maturing, a coming of age.
Two thousand and five was a difficult year. I think 2006 will be no less so. There will be, as there always has been, war and the rumor of war. There will, as there always have been, political battles. There will be, as there always have been, the evil deeds that choke out the hope of a better world. Like tares growing alongside the wheat, the cares of the world will way heavy on the hearts of mankind.
Oh, 2006 will be ushered in with words of hope. There’ll be fireworks and balls dropping, dancing and singing. But, soon enough, by January 2nd, the bitter reality will set in. It’s been that way for eons, it seems.
What’s at the heart of this dance with deception? It’s misplaced hope. We put too much faith in ourselves. Does that mean we shouldn’t dream, or hope, or act out, as much as is humanly possible, those dreams and hopes? No! But it does mean that we should take those hopes and dreams out of the shadows and bring them into the light.
There is, it is written, a glory to come, a time when the lion will lie down with the lamb, a time when justice will roll like mighty waters, a time when the glory longed for will become certain knowledge, a time when the dreams of the prophets will be realized. When that new day dawns, the cyclical reality of hopes expressed, then dashed by the events of the day, will, once and for all, be broken.
This morning I read a short essay, taken from C.S. Lewis’s Weight of Glory. As the old year passes and a new one dawns, I’d like to share it with you. It expresses my deepest hope for the year ahead, for me, my family, and for you:
“This brings me to the other sense of glory – glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun; we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want? Ah, but we want so much more - something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves – that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods. They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it cannot. They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into a human face; but it won’t. Or not yet. For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rushing with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
I pray that your New Year will be filled with that longing. May it be filled with the hope that what now seems a distant shadow will become a living reality. May your New Year be blessed!