Beginnings and Endings: Contextualizing a Year

As I hear the TV downstairs blasting Dick Clark’s Rockin’  Eve 2012 special, I’m reminded of all that could be done to bring in the new year.  Back home in the Los Angeles area people are preparing  to attend their various parties at homes, clubs, concerts, or other venues of indulgent celebrations–even here in the Austin area people find joy similarly.  There are many ways to celebrate, and New Year’s Eve tends to find the most elaborate, meaningful, emotional, and joyous.  Just a little while ago even, as the New Year transitions depict one’s growth throughout, our own son Isaiah, as little as he is at two-years old, said his first complete prayer tonight–he couldn’t quite make the late night party.  We couldn’t understand half of it, really, but what I did comprehend it was filled with thanks for the day and for Mommy, Daddy, and “Ammi” (what he calls his grandmother).  This coming from someone whose prayers previously consisted of “Thank you Jesus for this rice.  Amen!”

Yet, there is much more to consider as we transition into a new year, even if just the thought of what that may actually mean.  Just as people began the system of mathematics based upon the 10-digits of one’s hands or toes, so also we understand a “year” to be based on the rotations of earth around its sun.  We know what to generally expect when entering a new year based on what seasons we’ve experienced in prior years, considering, of course, the earth’s own tilt in affecting our weather and overall experience throughout the year.  We also have a general idea on what to expect with people–our friends, family, acquaintances, and those with whom we have tension or spite.  One of the qualities in King Solomon’s famous Ecclesiastes is his emphasis that there is “nothing new under the sun”.

9That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one might say,
“See this, it is new”?
Already it has existed for ages
Which were before us.
11 There is no remembrance of earlier things;
And also of the later things which will occur,
There will be for them no remembrance
Among those who will come later still.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

What Solomon depicts throughout this book is the strict wisdom that the world isn’t getting better as it expects itself to be.  The attitudes in the world’s wisdom and philosophies (while revised and updated through the years) are essentially the same.  The day-to-day life of a man has changed little, if at all.  Each generation seeks for itself new progression and revolution, but the very effort is no different than the prior generation’s.  John Mayer may continue to be “waiting for the world to change”, but as patient as he may be he will never see the light of day.  For the very purpose in life, according to Solomon, is recognized late in his life as he writes this book as he says, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecc. 12:1)–his wisdom in a sense regrets the temporal indulgences he had formed his life on, and you could also say that Solomon rejects the world’s idea of “living for the moment” as he did only to find himself unsatisfied.

So, again, here we are at this 2012/2012 transition.  We reflect back at the year before and ahead at the one to come, and in doing so we, perhaps, contextualize ourselves in light of these time periods.  This very moment, I believe, is meaningful in the context of the moments before and those ahead.  The value of this moment is found sandwiched between all that brought us here and all that still lies ahead–we can only realize its value later, though, in retrospect.  We can even extend the parameters as great as our birth and death, even as far back to our family’s ancestry and forward to our children and their children.  However, the most profound context for our own lives comes in the greatest context–the Creator who created a universe billions of years ago for the purpose of creating a humanity in His own image, Himself becoming present for that people in the form of being Himself human, all the way to the eternal presence and unity of Himself with that humanity.  Conviction of this, what I consider to be, greater context provides meaning to this moment–today, last year, and the next.  We don’t need resolutions, revolutions, or any other self-help cause at which the world makes grand attempts.  Rather, our today ought to be wrapped in the present of His presence!

Happy New Year and, perhaps, a new life!

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