So this was Christmas - and what have you done ? Last Sunday of 2017





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

This John Lennon song is sure to be heard around Christmas time and new year’s. This beautiful song was written by Yoko Ono and John Lennon in 1971 and is set as a traditional English ballad. The song reached number 4 in UK and again after Lennon’s violent death it peaked at number 2. This song has since become almost a Christmas Standard, - and it sure has become one of my beloved New Years Classics along side Grundtvig Welcome New Year.

“Happy Christmas – war is over” was the culmination of more than two years of peace activism undertaken by John Lennon and Yoko One that famously began with bed-ins – the first one taking place during their honeymoon. It was a protest song. Just like the other Lennon song “Imagine” this was a protest song against war and terror. But not just a protest song but a song of hope and peace.

It is a wonderful New year’s song as it centers around the vital questions: “What have you done?” It is a question that I ask myself often, but especially when an old year closes and a new one opens. “What have I done?” Think back over this year, and ask yourself, what have I done?

This last day of 2017 will automatically be a day of reflection and reckoning. We look back, we remember, re regret, we recall, and we reassess.

The old year, the used days and months speak volumes about what we did, and what we didn’t do.

The new year, the unknown days and months ahead speaks volumes about, what we could, should and would do if we had time, made the right choices and did focus. So, with a gentle change in the lyrics we sing today:

And so, this was Christmas
I hope you had 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

Today on this last Sunday of 2017, the concept of old and new, old, and young, end and beginning, done and undone are very vivid in our thoughts – and even more in the Gospel from Luke

So, this was Christmas. We left the barn and the manger is empty, we left the sheep and the angles, we left Bethlehem and the Silent night, and now we are in the days that followed that first holy Night.

So, we leave the Bethlehem and go to Jerusalem, we leave the fields where the sheep were and go to the streets of Jerusalem, where the people rush.

So, we leave the barn and go to the temple.

So, we bring the little new child to the temple where the old ones reside. Simeon and Anna. Wise people of faith and hope.

So, the new born meets the old aged.

So, the young meet the old.

The old eyes of Simeon and Anna had seen a lot. The visions and prophesies of both had marked their days and their paths.

And now their old eyes rest on the new child and at the same time the child’s curious new eyes rest upon the old weary eyes of age.

It is indeed a wonderful way to end an old year with the gospel that so beautifully reflects on the old and the new: on the wisdom of the old and the visions of the new. On the eyes of the old that has truly seen a lot and the most – and the eyes of the young that truly is just beginning to see it all and curiously takes in the world, the words, and the visions.

The Gospel tells us that the man whose name was Simeon was righteous and devout and the Holy spirit rested on him.

Likewise, the Gospel tells us that the woman whose name was Anna, was of great age and never left the temple but worshiped, fasted, and prayed night and day.


These two old timers meet the new comer, whom they have been waiting for, witnessing about, hoping for, and praying for.

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon him…..

This is the beginning of the life and being of Jesus Christ in our world and with his vision and mission.

Today too is the last day of the old year and at midnight tonight, we take the first steps into the new year.


One of my absolute favorite Danish poet is Benny Andersen, who with his wonderful simple poem captures so much of life, humanity and hope.

Lev mens du lever og misund ikke

Men und de levende alt muigt liv

En haand kan knyttes s[vel som aabnes

Brug den til kaertegn og ikke til slag

I morgen er der muligvisater en dag

Hvor intet er helt det samme som for.


Live while you live and envy not

But give the living all possible life

A hand can be clenched, and it can be opened

Use it to caress and not to hit

Tomorrow will possible be yet another day

Where nothing will be the same.


As the old and the new collide today, as we say goodbye to the old and used days, and greet the new and open days ahead, let us do so as the poet encourages us to: wit life, with hope and with openness, with open hands and arms and minds, with care and comfort and caress and a hope for the tomorrows that will come and will bring us something new. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer for the New Year

Praise and eternal glory be to you our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who was, is and shall be one true God, praised from the beginning now and forever more.

Lord God, as we look ahead to the year ahead, we do so with wonder and praise, knowing that whatever the year brings You will be with us, knowing that however lost we get you will find us, knowing that you will be by our side.

We bring before you our prayers for the World. Knowing that all are in your arms and you love the greatest and the weakest; the oldest and the youngest; the wisest and the most foolish.

We pray for the World: that this year may find the News not dominated by greed and fear and war and violence

but be full of hope and expectation and that it may mark the end of the numerous conflicts around the world.

We pray for our own country that she may lead the world in diplomacy and peace.

We pray for all politicians this year, that they may be filled with a duty to the poorest and weakest among us.

Lord, we pray for this church this coming year We pray for congregation and pastor, for council and committee. We pray for the presiding Bishop Eaton of ELCA and bishop Taylor of Pacifica Synod.  And we pray that all who come here may find a warm welcome.

Lord you are with us always, and in all places.

Bless each one of us, in Jesus Name, Amen

Please rise: The grace of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of us. Let us greet one another.