The start of a new year brings with it the opportunity for new hope.
Really a year is just a number. That’s how long it takes this little blue planet to get around the sun.
There seems be unanimous agreement that 2020 sucked.
A global pandemic killed hundreds of thousands. There were riots in the streets across our land again and again. Old wounds have not been healed. Segments of the economy collapsed and, as usual, the poor caught the worst of it. Politics got even more extreme and hateful to the point of testing our very system of government and our ability to tolerate those who differ.
Most everyone would like to move on to something better in 2021.
Will it happen? No one knows. However, we can guess. There will probably be some more bumps in the road in getting the vaccine distributed. People will get agitated about it. Things will get back to some semblance of normal, probably with a more heightened sense of interpersonal hygiene. There will some improvement in righting some of our societal ills, but it will not come fast enough for some people. I think politics may become a little more civil, but our entrenched two-party system and biased media thrives on conflict.
In summary, we really hope it is a better year, but putting up a new calendar doesn’t really change anything. Change does not come from without, but from within.
I have been thinking a lot about change lately. My Mom died three days before Christmas 2019 and my brother died last Wednesday, three days before New Year’s Day 2021. Patty’s parents have passed away, her one brother too. Both of my parents and one brother also have passed away. All of our aunts and uncles have also passed away.
I am trying to figure out the impact of that. Patty and I are each the oldest in our family. It’s a huge change. What does it mean?
I feel an added sense of responsibility. While I don’t always want to be responsible, I generally thrive on it and like having something important to do.
The main thing I am responsible to do is to love, which is really the hardest thing to do over the long haul, once you get past the warm and fuzzy part of it. It is not to try to change, but to love. Not to worry, but to pray and to love. Not to load someone up with “you should’s”, but to love. Ultimately, love is transformational.
We just rounded the corner from Christmas and its “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” message. It’s not some magic Jesus thing. Granted he is the source, but he is not the end.
Once he asked his disciples, “Where is the Kingdom of God?” What would you say? Jesus told them (us) that the kingdom of God is within them (us).
The Kingdom of God is not trying to turn the United States into a theocracy, trying to mold our culture to how we understand Christianity, or trying to mash up faith and politics. Nothing could be more unlike Jesus. The United States of America is not the Kingdom of God, not even close. A great nation, a brilliant, though flawed system of government, better that a lot of alternatives? Yes? The Kingdom of God? No!
The Kingdom of God is within us. Bringing peace and goodwill (in all aspects) is not a magical thing, it’s our job, our responsibility.
If we did that, 2021 will be a lot better.
There is one more facet to my ramblings. It ties in with both my sense of age and responsibility. It occurs to me that whatever I am going to do, I better get doing it. Getting up there is years isn’t a bad thing. We are, hopefully, a little more relaxed, a little wiser, and a little more unafraid to say something that must be said. But age can also give us focus.
What kind of person do you want to be? What would I like people to say about you when I die?
Answering those questions will give us the focus we need for a new year.