As one year turns to the next, we naturally reflect on the passage of time. The seconds tick away and are gone. Each moment of our lives is finally temporary. The space between the future and the past is so thin that sometimes it threatens to disappear. So what is the point of another day, of today, of this new year?
Time is God’s gift to us in two ways. Time’s persistent prodding prevents us from fruitless nostalgia, from getting stuck in the past. With God’s help, we check our watches, calendars, and phones and then say to ourselves and each other, “What’s next?” The passage of time gives us a farther horizon and keeps our focus ahead of ourselves. Time also presents us with constant opportunities for a fresh start, a do-over, a chance to amend our ways and reconcile ourselves with those we may have hurt or offended. Time does heal wounds. Time reminds us how the mercies of the Lord “are new every morning” (Lam. 3:23).
But there is still more. The Bible portrays for us how God encompasses even time. God is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” At the origin of all things, God was there, active and alert. (See Genesis 1:1.) At the end of time, God will still be there. God’s creation will be renewed and transformed, and death and sorrow will be gone for good. The ending to the Bible’s story of time is strikingly not about how we will finally go up to God, but how God will come down to us, to dwell (or “tabernacle,” as the Greek puts it) among us. And every second that passes brings us nearer to that glorious day.
O Alpha and Omega, our rock of ages past and hope for years to come, make your home with us and dwell among your people throughout this coming year. Amen.
The beginning of the New Year reminds us of God’s love for all peoples through the celebration of Epiphany. Isaiah uses imagery of a wedding and a garden to declare that the beauty arising from Israel will go to all nations. The psalmist praises the Lord on behalf of everything and everyone on the earth, including men and women from all peoples. Paul proclaims that Christ fulfills the expectations of Israel; he is the open door for all to become children of God. In Luke, Simeon and Anna speak prophetically over the infant Jesus in the Temple, declaring him the light to the Gentiles. God’s promises made in love are fulfilled in love.
• Read Isaiah 61:10–62:3. How are you daily becoming Zion, a person of justice?
• Read Psalm 148. How does your connection to God connect you to creation?
• Read Galatians 4:4-7. How confident are you that God listens to your prayer?
• Read Luke 2:22-40. When have you experienced sacrifice as gain rather than loss?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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