As we look back on the year that is ending, and look forward to a new year which is about to start, we are very aware of “time”.
Somebody once wrote that time serves merely to date lives and to inflect verbs. However we care to express our concept of time, we must remember that whatever time is allowed to us is rooted in the quickly vanishing ‘now’. We never step into the same river twice; the waters have gone onwards, never to return.
We have just celebrated Christmas, God’s entry through Christ into the world at Bethlehem.
It is possible to sing all the lovely Christmas carols and hymns, to enjoy the familiar readings and prayers, to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion – and yet fail to apply to our lives the message of Christmas, Christ with us. It is all too easy to become like an aimless tourist: Seeing, being part of, all that we identify with the celebration of Christmas, and yet forgetting what it is all about.
The concept of Almighty God, Creator of all the galaxies of space, with planet earth being a minute part of a vast universe, ‘stooping down’ and becoming ‘one of us’ is beyond our wildest imaginings. Yet that is what happened. God is with us. He asks us to share His life, purpose and example.
At the start of 2016, God gives to us the gift of the present moment. Opportunities once rejected are lost forever. Others there may be, but they will be other. On the wider scale of decades and centuries, our lives are brief, and irreversible. Unlike those for whom anticipation of the new year can only mean fear, dread and darkness, we can, as a result of Bethlehem, look forward in joy and hope.
No cynicism or despair, no anxiety or fear, need wither the freshness of our aim as the Son of Man has come to make all things new. Let us grasp every opportunity every single day that the Lord allows, and use the gift of the present moment, as God would wish us to do, for the benefit of others, and the advancement of His Kingdom.
In hope, we travel to the yet undiscovered land of another new year. An author called, Robert Farley, summed up so beautifully the task which, in God’s eyes, we should see before us; think of the hopes that lie before you. Not the waste that lies behind; think of the treasures you have gathered. Not the ones you failed to find; think of the service you may render, not of serving self alone; think of the happiness of others. And in this you’ll find your own.
The Dean of Derry
Very Rev Dr Wm Morton, DL