The first Sunday of a new year invites us to climb up and see distant horizons. No matter what our 2012 was like or what we’re going through at the moment, this Sunday is our opportunity to begin anew with hope. The coming of each new year challenges us to believe again that hope will triumph in the end.
Why does the singing of Auld Lang Syne bring a lump to our throats? I think it’s because at the turning of the year we feel especially close to our mortality. Like Emily in Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, we are staggered by both the beauty and brevity of life.
I sometimes catch myself thinking, How did I come to be fifty-seven? I can’t possibly be a day over twenty-five! Where do the years go? Sometimes it feels as if we fall asleep and by the time we wake up, they’re gone.
It helps me immensely to be part of a congregation in which our older members model how to age gracefully. They teach us that wisdom, fortitude, and hard-won loving relationships are priceless gifts. These gifts stand the test of time and are worth the sacrifices required to attain them.
In 2013 the first Sunday of the year falls on Epiphany — January 6 (twelve days after Christmas). On this day we remember the journey of the Magi and celebrate the coming of God’s light to people of all nations.
Each of us is also on a journey, always in need of God’s light to lead us out of our ignorance, our confusion, our insistence on going astray. When we pause to recognize how far we’ve come, our hearts well up in thanksgiving for all we’ve learned and for arriving safely at today.
In the year ahead we’ll have many more mountains to climb, valleys to cross, and obstacles to overcome. The future is dark because it’s unknown, and the darkness can be terrifying. But if we trust that the same light that has brought us this far will stay with us always, we have no reason to be afraid. Insight, courage, endurance, and support will be provided when we need them, in order to keep us progressing on the mission we were sent here to accomplish.
In this spirit of hope we can move forward in faith, excited about seeking those distant horizons that call to us from the mountaintop — the seeking of which will write the story of our lives.
I look forward to making the climb with you this Sunday, that we may renew our vision together!
With much love,