Sunday, December 30, 2018

Goodbye 2018, Welcome 2019.

Early this morning as I looked out of my window I was a little surprised. Everything was white! In upstate New York on the last Sunday of December that really shouldn’t have shocked me. Yet it did, as it was very unexpected. Certainly, not what my weather app had told me before I went to bed. The forecast had been no more snow until next Friday. The weather has certainly been very changeable. A lot of snow for a few weeks culminating in a crisp white Christmas (always lovely), a couple of days later a surge in temperature causing a thaw with the ensuing glimpse of green grass again . . . for a day! Now snow stretched before me white and unmarked. A fitting sight for the last Sunday of the year. A reminder that a new year, as yet untouched, is before me. 

A couple of lines from the popular Christmas song—which made the Christmas number one spot in 1973—came to mind. 

 “Look to the future now. It’s only just begun.” (Slade)

So, the last Sunday in December has arrived — the last Sunday of 2018. Perhaps, a time to look back and a time to look forward simultaneously. I’ve reached an age where I am aware of how short and fragile our time on earth is—this year has flown by. Life is a gift and should never be taken for granted. I’ve always liked the idea of the analogy of life as a journey. The journey may be smooth or have rough spots, have ups and downs, deep sorrows and joys, but that is all part of our humanness. 

The text for today (Luke 2:41-52) talks of a journey. One undertaken by a young Jesus and his earthly parents. I’m sure their annual trip to Jerusalem for Passover festival was something of a highlight in their lives. The text tells us they travelled with a large crowd, presumably friends and relations were part of the group. The journey was probably a large part of the overall event. I know whenever Andy and I travel we enjoy the journey, we listen to books, we see new places, sometimes passed through quickly and seen from the road. Occasionally lingered at and experienced for an hour or two. 

In today’s story, after the festival, as they journeyed home the parents realised that Jesus was missing. They had assumed Jesus was with some of the others in their party. They returned to Jerusalem and found him in the temple. 

The reading contains some lovely phrases and ideas that I want to highlight. The first idea is that Jesus sought to be with those who he could learn from. Jesus listened and questioned (46). I thought about this in relationship to part of our community prayer, “to find Christ in those we meet.” Everyone has something to offer me and teach me, I just need to listen.

The next idea I want to highlight is the comment about Mary who “treasured all these things in her heart” (51). I love that idea, special moments, special joys being treasured in one’s heart. As I thought about it I can’t number how many times Andy and I have thought about and reminisced about special times. They are close to our hearts. These treasures help through the rough times.

The last idea from the text is the closing sentence. Although in the reading it is specific to Jesus, I want to think about it more generally. The wording is “increased in wisdom and in years.” (52) What an encouraging thought that is. What a hope. As physical aging occurs there is the possibility of an increase in wisdom. Life experiences on the journey are not wasted, they bring wisdom.

Soon I will go outside and step into the snow. I will leave my footprints, I make my mark on it. Each step is like a new beginning, treading a path previously untrodden. In 2019, whatever the year brings, I want every moment to count. 

“Look to the future now. It’s only just begun.” (Slade)