The passages from Ecclesiastes and Revelation are two of the scripture passages that the Revised Common Lectionary uses for New Year’s Day – which this year is on a Thursday and not my usual posting day. But since New Year’s Eve is a very typical time to make resolutions for the new year. I think it quite appropriate to look at this scripture passage and decide what in the new year we have time for and will make time for.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
What will you make time for, beloved reader? And what will you not take time to do?
“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13)
Does it surprise you that God wants us to enjoy life and living? We are all familiar with those who don’t seem to know what God does for them and what God wants them to do. But so often, too often, we assume God means for us to work hard. Nose to the grind stone and suffering for God – isn’t that the way we consider the Christian life? But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this new year, why don’t we resolve to “cast our burdens upon the Lord” and bring our problems to God.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’ “(Revelation 21:1-4)
A new heaven and a new earth – a new beginning of humanity. The beginning of the new year is something like this. The days are fresh and new – no sin has yet been committed, no hatred or violence has been expressed. And God is with us.
But we know as the days of the new year count themselves out, there will be sin; and because evil is still in the world, there will be hatred and violence. In fact, it is very likely before the the new year is but a few minutes old there will be sin, hatred, violence and many other tragedies.
“And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 21:5-6a)
God is the only one who can make all things new, and keep all things from sin. And God has already accomplished what needs to be done to insure that in the world to come that newness will endure. But right now, it may be a new year, but it is the “old” us. Take heart, beloved reader. God is with us and God is seated on the holy throne. The Lord was there in the beginning, and the Lord will be there at the end of all years. Selah!