Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 1, 2014

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Psalm 8, Revelation 21:1-6a, Matthew 25:31-46

Ecclesiastes says that there is a time for everything. A new year is upon us; a time for fresh starts, a time to set new goals and resolutions, a time to look back on the previous year, and remember all the ways that God has worked in your life and in the world. What do you think it means in verse 11, where it says, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end." I think it points to we (us?) being made for eternity, even though in our finite humanness, we can't even fathom what that means. We know that God is in control and has a plan, but we cannot see into the future to know all the details, and we often forget the past, and ways that God has walked us through. That's why it is important, that as we are taking this time to look ahead at the year that is to come, to also remember how God took us through 2013. Whether through trials, or through joys and blessings, or both.
The psalmist reminds us that God, who is big enough to set the stars and moon in their place, whose name fills the earth, whose glory is higher than the heavens, also cares for we (us?) humans. He has crowned us with glory and honor, giving us authority over other living things! God cares for us so much, that he is creating a new Jerusalem, a new city (Heaven is a city!) for us, where He will live among His people and be with us. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Not only will God be with us in this new city, but everything that is broken will be fixed. He is making all things new! The ultimate new year.
But what are we to do until then in this broken world? Ecclesiastes says to "eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of our labor, for these are gifts from God." Matthew reminds us to love our neighbor. Not just the easy-to-love neighbor, but the one who is hungry or thirsty, the one who needs our hospitality and to be clothed, and to have a friend who cares enough to visit them when they are sick or in prison. So while we wait for Heaven, we are to enjoy and remember gifts from God, and to love our neighbor above and beyond what our neighbor expects from us. This is difficult. And sometimes we are the neighbor who needs a friend to actively care for us. Fortunately we have a God who cares for us, and gives us the ability to care for others. Read 1 John 4:9-21 if you have time. And Mark 12:30-31.

Here's to loving our neighbor in 2014. And here's to remembering how God cares for us, and is preparing a place for us where he will live among us.

Cheers. Happy New Year!

Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all your mercies, and
make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

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