Happy New Year, City Pres. Of course, the church’s new year started with the beginning of Advent, but today we meet 2014 and say our goodbyes to 2013. As I posted in my last blog, I usually love life’s bookends. I love time to reflect and to look forward. I love lists and resolutions and goals. I love writing down all of the things I love about my life and all of the things I hate about my life, pouring a glass of wine and hashing it out with my journal, my sisters, and God.
But coming to the end of this year has been different. For me this year was full of laughter and adventures but it was also so hard, and it ended hard. I lost the control I thought I had, and I became afraid.
Sometimes even now I feel as though I am stepping over a massive ledge into a dark abyss. I wake up with that feeling, the feeling you have when you first realize you’re falling, and I can’t shake it. I can’t find something to hold onto. For a few moments this year, some longer than others, I lost hope.
Incredibly though, hope hasn’t lost me. As I let myself and my fears be known to my pastor, my friends, and a counselor, God laid out a bridge over the chasm I felt I would fall into, and I didn’t fall. I tripped, I stumbled, sometimes I even tried to hurl myself over in dramatic acts of self destructive bravery. But there was always more bridge, more God, more community, and more hope.
Maybe this year a good friend got married, had babies, or graduated. Maybe you got married, had babies, or graduated. Maybe you accomplished a great goal this year or maybe you struggled just to keep your head above the water. My guess is that at some point this year you laughed really hard, at some point you did something stupid, at some point you repented, and at some point you did something lovely and selfless.
I’ve been reminded in a sermon this week that my life is defined not by its circumstances but by two events: the past resurrection of Christ and his future coming. When Christ rose from the dead he defeated death and injustice and sickness and sin. Then he hugged his disciples, told them all to tell everybody else that this reversal of death was just the beginning and they had a lot of work to do. He said that the Holy Spirit would be with them, and that they should bring his kingdom into the tiny corners of their lives. Then he said that once you and I and a lot of other people had been born, he’d return to resurrect our bodies and reign in full. And well, here we are, and we wait.
Happy New Year. I wonder if it will be that for you or for me. We don’t know what 2014 holds. For some of us there will be new life, and, for some of us, there will be death. But we know the end of the story. In the end King Jesus will come in glory, and we and our loved ones will be safe and whole and unafraid. We will be laughing. Cancer, loneliness, abuse, confusion, these might win battles, but they don’t win the war. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
May we live as many moments as possible in this year aware of our great bookends. They are not December 2013 and January 2015. They are His resurrection and our own. We have hope to cling to, and thank God, we have Hope himself clinging to us. So may we have faith to obey what He asks of us now. May we live lives of radical repentance and generosity. May we work well invisibly to please the One who will come. Happy New Year, City Pres. Be Happy. This story ends well.