Last year at this time I’m sure many of us were saying, ‘In 2020 things are going to be different!’
Well, we weren’t wrong, but it was different in a way we couldn’t have foreseen and for many it was a very difficult year. I had hoped to be less busy at work and have time to visit family and friends whom I hadn’t seen for several years, but that just wasn’t to be. I’m sure many of us had plans that were suddenly put on hold as Covid-19 spread through the country.
We read in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace’.
Certainly for many people 2020 saw sudden changes to the direction of their lives and some of those changes were for the better even amongst all the stress and disappointments. 2020 was certainly a time for change. And for many people the pandemic gave the opportunity for ‘fresh starts’ and ‘second chances’.
We cannot doubt that it was a tough year. One way to cope is to think of what we have gained rather than what we have lost. Focus on what we learned from the experience both about ourselves and also those around us to help us move forward. Maybe we are being directed to look at our priorities through fresh eyes and with hope.
A sense of brokenness is the first step to renewal and healing. It isn't a bad thing to mourn our losses. But it is a bad thing to spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulder to the past instead of lifting your eyes to the future.
Although we can change the direction of our lives at any time, somehow the turning of the calendar to a new year seems the ideal opportunity. But I'm not suggesting that we make a long list of New Year Resolutions. In fact, the idea of pledging to do something for the next 365 days is daunting particularly when we remember the failures of previous New Year Resolutions.
We need to remember the advice Jesus gave about just taking care of today and not worrying too much about tomorrow's troubles. "Each day has challenges enough of its own!" he said. (Matthew 6:34). And when we think about it carefully, we realize that our own experience confirms this.
New Year 2021 is God's present to us all. With His presence and a one-day-at-a-time attitude, creative new things will come out of the chaos of the past. And life will become fresh every morning.
So we can pray:
Father give us a new year. Not just a new number, but a truly new year. Lord, give us a new year full of new ideas and refresh some of our old ideas. Give us new relationships, renew old relationships and restore relationships that have been broken.
[Richard Byas, Reader]