At New Year’s there is always the words of two very different songs that keep playing in my mind. The first one is not a song, but a hymn. A beautiful Danish hymn off course written by Grundtvig. We sing it every New year’s…. And we have been singing it the first two Sundays of this year:
“ Welcome New year with the Grace of God…”
This old prayer truly sets the tone and attitude for me at New Years – as a prayer and a hymn to be sung. Again, and again. We need to begin every new year with a prayer for light and joy, for prosperity and peace, for sunshine, rain, and the seasons, for a blessed year for everyone. We greet the New Year welcome with words of prayer and hope for the days to come.
The second song that also keeps playing in my mind at New Years, is John Lennon and Yoko Ones” Happy Christmas…. “
So, this is Christmas. And what have you done
Another year over. And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas. I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one. The old and the young
A very Merry Christmas. And a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one. Without any fear
And so, this is Christmas. For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones. The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas. For black and for white
For yellow and red ones. Let's stop all the fight
A very Merry Christmas - And a happy new year.
One is an old Danish Hymn, the other is a newer American song, but despite their difference the same message and hope carry them: that this year will be a Happy New Year. Without fear or anxiety, and filled with light, joy, hope, love, faith, courage, and peace. We pray and hope that this will be. Both songs despite differences are heartfelt prayers for the New Year.
We are in the season of Epiphany. The time after Christmas, building a bridge to lent and Easter. The time here I church, that is marked by God’s manifestation in the world, his appearance among us: first as the bright and glorious star that shone and led the Wise men to Bethlehem and the manger, then as Jesus was born in the river of Jordan and when Jesus – as described in today’s Gospel – did appear among us. How Jesus was seen and heard and noticed by many, including his first disciples who were called to follow him.
“Look, here is the lamb of God…. Come and see…. We have found the Messiah.” Thus the news about Jesus sounded: come and see him some and hear him, some and feel his presence.
This was to be the beginning of the public service and life of Jesus the world; the beginning of the movement and the strong faith, that was to mark and shape and form the history of the world and led us to be here today in this beautiful church.
This is the beginning; this is what came after the star, the child, and the baptism. This is the beginning of Christianity in the world and among us and it reminds us of our own beginning, birth, baptism, and faith. And it reminds us of the beginning of this new year.
New year is the time to reflect, to make accounts of the past, and to leave the past behind us to face the new day. New year is the time to look ahead, make plans and even make new year’s resolutions to try to keep:
To exercise more and eat less, to listen more and talk less, to enjoy time and not plan time, to try new things and not be afraid of changes.
Her Majesty the Queen gave a fine speech at New years and she gave us one advice: Let us make a New Year Resolution! Always to try to see the people around us.
Look up, look at each other, meet each other, talk, and laugh and share. Look up from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Turn of the IPhone, IPad or the computer.
Granted there were no I phones, Ipads, Netflix, Google, or Twitter at the time of Jesus, but there has always been something that could distract us from truly seeing, being present.
Jesus began his life and his service by being seen, heard, and noticed. By making himself visible, audible, and relatable. In a profound insisting divine manner, Jesus was and is among us.
This is January 15 of 2017. We are in the aftermath of Christmas and we are reflecting of the message of Christmas.
When the carols have been stilled, when the star-topped tree s taken down, when family and friends are gone home, when we are back to our schedules,
The work of Christmas begins:
To welcome the refugee, to heal a broken planet, to feed the hungry, to build bridges of trust not walls of fear, to share our gifts, to seek justice and peace for all people. To bring Christ’s light to the world.
To bring the light of Christ to the world.
Tomorrow it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and he did bring the light of Christ into a very broken and divided world and time in the American history. 2 months before his assassination, he spoke to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, about his death in what would oddly enough become his eulogy:
“ Every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. If any of you are around when I must meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention the Nobel Peace Prize or the 300 other awards, that is not important. I’d like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther Kong Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like someone to say that day that Marin Luther King Jr. tired to love somebody. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to be able to say that I did try to visit those in prison. Want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.” Dr. King concluded with these words: “I don’t have any money left behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But is just want to leave a committed life behind.”
A committed faithful heartfelt life. How do we live a life like that and leave a legacy like that? Try to remember what it most important in life, that it is indeed not things, but people, relations, love, fellowship, family, and a good faithful heart. The most important things are not our investments in stocks, but our investments in people, relations, family, friends, good moments, and the awareness of the other just next to us.
So, let us sing the beautiful hymns and songs of New Year and let us sing about peace, love, and happiness. Let us not only listen to the wise Queens words, but let us join her making it to our New year’s resolution to try to see the people around us. See them, hear them, notice them, love them, and help them.
Today we look at the little baptismal child born and baptized to joy, hope and faith – ad we are reminded of our own baptism and birth and beginning.
Today we kneel shoulder by shoulder at communion and we are reminded of once upon a time when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and now shares with us; and we are reminded that forgiveness is the very breath of faith and life among us.
Today we greet each other and we wish each other a very Happy New Year. We look at each other as human beings united by the spirit of humanity and faith.
Today the blessing of God is shining on us and we leave her blessed and forgiven to be a blessing in the world.
Welcome New year, you are welcome here!