Ready or not, believe it or not–this Sunday is the first day of the new year. For generations, Christians have marked time differently. We mark the days not by the seasons or the calendar, but by the rhythm of telling and re-telling the story of Christ. This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent–the season where we prepare for the coming of the messiah while remembering why he came and rejoicing in anticipation that he will come again.
So while the whole world will celebrate a new year in January, we keep time differently. This Sunday, at the very end of the calendar year, we begin again. For us, the ending is a new beginning–that is our sacred story.
And this year, in this Advent season, we will be learning new spiritual songs–Songs of Redemption. Because, even though it doesn’t often seem like it, all of scripture is telling one story. The story of God and creation. And the essence of that story is one word: Redemption. God formed all that is out of love–and though creation has been twisted and torn, God will not abandon or destroy–God will redeem God’s own.
It’s a truth so glorious it can only be told as a song.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God sings to us
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating;
for I am about to create a new Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it or the cry of distress.
That’s a song of redemption, Church. Liars will tell you that what God is doing is only for the beautiful innocent few–that it will happen somewhere else or someone else. But God says otherwise–the beautiful new heaven and earth will be made from and for the old. Jerusalem won’t be destroyed and forgotten, but remade and renewed. Our relationship will be restored, not severed.
In time and truth, what looks like the end is actually the sacred beginning.
I hope you’ll join me as we open our whole selves up to new life and new beginnings in Christ.