“This is the record of the people…” Jeremiah 52:28. “According to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” Rev. 20:12.
Have you ever kept a diary? Having been very kindly given a diary last year as a Christmas present I decided to give it a go. As the year began I filled in my diary diligently every evening before dropping off into sleep. By mid-January I was already several days behind and filling in those missing days took far too long. Worse still, as I read back over what I have recorded I discovered that, far from being scintillating reading, my diary reflects a boring and unimaginable life - but posterity is safe, I’ve given up!
I can remember being rather frightened as a child when often we were reminded by the minister that all we did, our good deeds and our bad deeds, were daily recorded by God in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But now I understand as an adult that Christ wipes those pages clean every day for those who seek forgiveness and allows us to begin a fresh, unblemished page. Our God is not a god who wants us to wallow in a sense of failure and not a god who likes to cast our imperfections up to us. He is a loving God, despite what the world sometimes likes to tell us.
Evidence of evil and a lack of love in the world are not God’s fault.
If we make things hard for ourselves we have no one but ourselves to blame – God only wants to help.
These few precious days at the turn of the year offer an opportunity for people who are normally very busy to give worthwhile time to family and friends. It can also be a stressful and difficult time for people who feel estranged from friends and loved ones to whom they were once close, and for those who feel they have no-one they can truly call a friend. At this time of year many people are able to rekindle relationships that have somehow gone sour. We are all capable of bringing light and love into another person’s life – perhaps someone for whom hope itself is fading, someone who desperately needs the rekindling of trust that only care and friendship can bring.
Jesus Christ came into the world to bring us not only the light of His love but also the warmth of His friendship. Indeed, He assured His disciples that they were more than just ‘followers’; they were His ‘friends’ (John 15.15). All of our communities truly need the rekindling of wholesome relationships in 2020 and our prayer this Ne’erday is that men and women of goodwill and integrity will find the generosity and courage they need to take the initiative in making these crucial relationships work. Under the banner and experience of that, let us resolve to make the most of 2020, within the framework of our circumstances and to the best of our abilities and with as few inhibitions as possible - and “one day at a time” will do. Let’s all be the better version of ourselves in 2020, as T. S. Eliot writes, “last year’s words belong to last year’s language - and next year’s words await another voice.”
Small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring understanding and harmony. So let each of us put in our share in 2020, small steps of goodness, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched-out hand of tolerance - all the shinning gifts that make peace on earth. We wish you a very happy, healthy, prosperous and – more importantly – hope-filled New Year.