28 Dec The March of Time through the Lens of Faith
When I was a kid, I was in the habit of wishing time away. I wanted time to speed up, to get me to the next big milestone faster—my first bike, turning “double digits”, becoming a teenager, finally getting to drive, graduating high school and going away to college. Boy, how times have changed. Now time seems to continually move at warp speed, and I would be thrilled if it would slow down a bit. Of course, all of this is a matter of perspective. Time marches in the same steady rhythm now that it did when I was young—60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
What has changed is not the pace of time, but my experience of it. This has made marking time more important to me than ever, as we’ll do this weekend with the turning over of a new year. In all honesty, I am glad to see 2017 go. I am grateful beyond words for the many blessings of every year, including this one, but 2017 was particularly hard. Grief and I kept an uneasy companionship for several months until I was able to receive her as a friend and mentor. It’s not that I expect 2018 to be devoid of loss or difficulty, but I am finding my footing again. Grief is still with me, but I am a more accepting companion.
Rituals help us mark time. What are your special traditions that celebrate the passing of one year and the beginning of a new one? I used to love starting a new calendar in the days before my smart phone took its place. I do still stubbornly cling to keeping a checkbook register even in these days of online banking, and I start a fresh one every January 1st. I also do a lot of cleaning, purging and organizing during this week between Christmas and New Year’s. I want to go to work on January 2nd with my house fully recovered from the explosion of wrapping paper and ribbon that occurred on Christmas Day. For me, the act of decluttering my physical stuff gives me clarity and opens space mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I realize this is not the case for everyone, but that is an essential truth for me.
Another ritual that is particularly meaningful to me is to reflect on the year just passed and list the significant events that occurred. I focus on what I have learned, how I have grown or changed, and what new insights proved to be impactful. Often the events of significance include a book I read, a person who encouraged me, a family trip, or a goal I accomplished. A few items on the list will be large, but many will be small, easy to forget or overlook as the year rushes by. Collectively, the list reminds me of the many gifts and blessings of the year even in the midst of pain and difficulty.
As 2017 draws to a close, I am grateful for the gift of prayer, for people who have lifted me up time and again before our loving and merciful God. I have been held and carried by these prayers, and each one of them has been a treasure. Thank you. I am grateful for Calvary Presbyterian Church, for the honor and privilege of serving as the pastor of this remarkable congregation. They continue to display humor, grace and selfless service to one another and our community, and their example humbles and awes me. I have the best job in the world, and I thank them for that. I am grateful for my family. Had we not done this year together, I could not have done it at all. Thank you. Most of all, I am grateful for the immense treasure of walking day-by-day with an Incarnate God whose presence and mercy imbue all my days, not because I deserve it but because of God’s profound love. Because of that love, I know there is nothing to fear even in the darkest of times. I know there is hope regardless of the circumstances, peace that defies all odds, joy that surprises when we least expect it. If you do not know the love, hope, peace and joy of God, I invite you to get to know Jesus Christ. He will turn your life upside down, and you’ll never be the same.
Yours for the Kingdom,