As Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on Wednesdays, we decided to split the difference on the delivery date of the newsletter, which meant that the Dec. 25th came on Christmas Eve and our New Year’s letter came the day after. My thanks to Kim, Amber and Lydia for sorting all this out.
In the Christian world, there are at least two Christmases and I wish all the friends within the Ukrainian tradition in the CBWC family a happy Christmas season in the days ahead. There are also many New Years’ or beginnings of a new year from which we can benefit. The benefit is in being able to start over or in continuing to build on a good foundation well. We can do that at the beginning of Advent, which is the Christian new year; we can do that on January 1st; on different kinds of anniversaries, including our own birthdays; and for some wise and good souls, the anniversary of their baptism or coming to faith. All these are the opportunities for new beginnings. This day is no different. I want to share three different simple quotes and the essence behind the meaning of each one to convey the foundations that all of us need in a new year.
The first principle is: It’s not about us, it’s about the Lord. That’s not just a clever or popular cliché, it a deep-rooted truth that needs no further explanation and is captured in Psalm 115:1:
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
Whatever we accomplish derives its strength from God. Whatever good we have realized, is simply a reflection of His own glory.
The second essential understanding that I need to be regularly reminded of is that God is faithful. Psalm 100:5 states:
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
I trust His faithfulness, not only as I recollect the past but also celebrate the present and anticipate what He will yet do in and through me.
The last foundation stone for me entering the New Year is the putting of our trust in God. If God has been faithful then He is also trustworthy. For some time I have weighed into and placed the emphasis on putting my hand in the hand of God… clearly central and important to remember. But this has been a year where I have dwelt, as many of you have dwelt, in the first part of the following poem. A place of uncertainty and anxiety. Some of us have experienced great losses this year and concerns over our personal lives, health, work and a whole host of other things have come to dominate our emotional, mental and spiritual landscape. Some of us may be in a place of great joy. May all of us find ourselves in a place where we can be thankful.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown!”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night
And He led me toward the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart, be still!
What need our little life,
Our human life, to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low
God hideth His intention.
Excerpt from “God Knows”, The Desert, 1908
Minnie Louise Haskins 1876-1957
Happy New Year.