Read Revelation 21:3-5
The idea of things being made new again is compelling, isn’t it? We get to start over. We get a clean slate. That’s sometimes how I feel about the new year. We mark the end of one year, and the start of another. We finish the chapter and close the book on 2014, and open a new book and pick up the pen on 2015. “A brand new year, a brand new you” as some New Year’s advertisements go.
But it’s not so cut and dry, is it? There’s holdover. We carry some things from the old year with us into the new. We pick and choose; keep that which is useful for keeping, and throw away the rest. And there are some things that we wish we could throw away, that simply won’t leave us. Whether it’s pain, or grief, or sadness, or all of those together… Life is messy sometimes. And God goes with us through all of that. God promises to walk with us, and never to abandon us.
I generally have wonderfully fond feelings about New Year’s Eve. I have memories of staying up to watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV while eating pizza in my pajamas when I was young, having all-nighters with my friends in high school, celebrating with friends on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida because we were there with our college marching band for a football bowl game the next day… And then five years ago, I took a beautiful girl on a date and asked her to marry me. For me, New Year’s Eve has never been about me as an individual, but always about spending time with the people I love and cherish deeply.
And I think God feels that way too. In the verses from Revelation, we hear of a God who dwells with God’s people, restores what is broken, wipes away tears, and mends what is torn. This is the God revealed through Jesus; not one who sits far off playing cosmic puppet master, but a God who enters into our humanity and walks among us and dwells with us. Another way to say this would be, God loves spending time with God’s people whom God loves and cherishes deeply. And it would seem that God having a deeply meaningful relationship with God’s people has something to do with the restoration of God’s creation.
That these things are connected is wonderfully comforting for me.
As we finish the chapter of one year and move confidently into the next, I hope we remain aware of God’s continuously-arriving future and keep looking for ways to engage in the life-giving and restorative work of God in the world.
Questions for reflection: What New Year’s memories do you have? What are some hopes you carry with you into the new year? What are you bringing with you from this past year? What possibilities excite you as you look forward to the future? What scares or concerns you? What are some ways that we can participate in God’s restorative work in the world?