Across the Pastor’s Desk: It’s the beginning of a new year
Published 8:00 pm Friday, November 26, 2021
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose
Happy new year!
As strange as that may sound at the end of November and in the midst of Thanksgiving gatherings, for many who worship in churches that keep the liturgical year, this Sunday, Nov. 28 this year, will in fact mark the beginning of a new year of worship, witness and service in the name of the Savior.
Many, even within these churches, question this disconnect between the year of the church and the calendar year of society. Wouldn’t it be easier, simpler, more convenient just to have them coincide? Perhaps in this case, easier, simpler and more convenient are not the results to be most valued.
To make use of the church year calendar is to be reminded that things in the life of faith are not the same as in the world at-large. Believers are called to walk the path of a different dominion and to witness to a different ruler in their lives.
If the timing were not challenging enough, the year of the church also begins at the beginning of the end rather than at the beginning. Lessons that introduce this new year carry on the themes with which the last year ended, the themes of the promise of the last days and the fulfillment of time. Thus one year connects seamlessly to the one before and the one after. The promise of God’s ultimate victory, though uncertain of the “when” motivates and empowers the people of God to serve and to witness that others might yet come to know the joy of faith in a God who longs to love and forgive.
The challenge continues to be that the promised reappearing of the Savior has not happened as soon as many believers either hoped or expected. As a result, many become apathetic and disillusioned while they wait. The sense of urgency to live the life to which have been called is lost the witness to the good news is dimmed.
The celebration of the new year in the church and the season of Advent are reminders of the faithfulness of God and God’s promises. As the Savior once appeared, so believers can trust that the promise of a second appearing is equally worthy of their confidence. Children of God live in the “not yet,” in the times between the victory won in the life, death and resurrection of the Christ and the final consummation of time and history. In that in-between time, God’s people are called to live into the future and to be faithful to the mission that has been entrusted to them.
It is a gentle, but powerful, reminder for the people of faith to walk a different path than that of the world around them. Each step, however, small, is a witness to the reign of God.
Happy new year!
Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran churches