Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve
31 December 2013
Our God Our Help in Ages Past
Psalm 90

O GOD, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only Son Jesus Christ.  Grant, that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold Him when He shall come to be our Judge on the Last Great Day; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We've come to the end of yet another year. 365 days have passed. What will be said of this the year, the year of our Lord  - 2013 - when the history books are written and this chapter of our lives is read?

It's been a significant year for this our Friedheim family. 175 years of mission and ministry! What a year it has been!

Like other years, there were births. Infants were born into this world. They too were claimed to be "children of light" as they were born again, through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Still others were born into Glory. As they took a walk. From one end of the Father's kingdom to the other. From the kingdom of Grace.  Into the Kingdom of Glory.

So, how do we measure one year that is past? With all of its experiences, it's  memories? What impression will this past year place upon your life?

And what do you say about the New Year, which is about to begin? How do we plot our future as we recall our past? Our hymn verse helps put all things into perspective.

Our God our Help in ages past. If you are ever admitted into a hospital, the first thing you need to do is remove your watch. You won’t need it. Hospital time is NOT regular time! The two are different! There is no time in a hospital. Time…is just a suggestion!  There were moments this past year when time seemed to stop. Now they are in the past.  Yet, forever they remain with us.
There are moments in our lives that are frozen in time. We make it a habit of marking time. Glance at your calendar. It reminds you when you first planted corn and cut your first field of beans. It marks the first snowfall and the first 90-degree day. It recalls you of your child’s first tooth, and their first steps. It remembers your first kiss. The day you got out of debt. They day you landed that big account. The day your child walked across the graduation stage. The day you entered retirement. Each of us can remember those significant moments of this past year. They are forever in our memory.
 God was in the midst of each of these days. Moses reminds us in Psalm 90, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or eve thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. –Psalm 90:1-2      
Moses will later write, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes establish the work of our hands.” – Psalm 90:17 It is important to remember that any of our accomplishments in our lifetime are really not much unless their directions come from our Heavenly Father. The importance of “His” work is greater than what this world holds as important.

Jesus remains, Our Hope for years to come. How do we face the next 365 days? What will befall us in the New Year? We simply do not know. But one thing we do know, “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” –Psalm 90: 2  

We pray that our Lord would direct us. “Heavenly Father, You have called us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown... give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us.[1]   

Because our Lord is with us. Because He has promised to lead us. Because He is our Good and faithful Shepherd we know our Lord remains, Our Shelter from the stormy blast. Calamities. Tragedies. Disasters. They make the headlines. There were plenty this past year. From a pipe bomb at the Boston Marathon to an F-4 tornado that left New Minden, IL in shambles.  2013 saw the fewest weather disasters in recent history. Yet, the Red Cross responded to 932 events this past year.

From the Arab Spring to the North Korea missile threats. They remind us we are living outside of Eden. Yet we do not loose heart.  St. Paul would remind us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” -  2 Corinthians 4:8-11   

We do not loose heart because we really don’t belong here. 0ur eternal Home! Is with the Lord. In this coming year there will be baptisms and there will be funerals. Infants will be welcomed into the family called the Church. Dear saints will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” We pray in the Te Deum “May we numbered with Thy saints, in glory everlasting.” The old song sings, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King.” And yes! It will be.  We will see the King! It could happen this year. The Lord might appear. The Lord might receive us. In His own perfect timing, all will be made right at the end of days.

Rejoice then this night. Your Savior remains timeless. The old year is gone. A new one dawns. The past year is over. Another takes its place. Jesus remains the same, Yesterday, today, and yes, forever. Your times are in His hands. Fare Thee well child of God. Fare thee well. From this year unto the next. Jesus remains the same, yesterday, today, and forevermore.

[1] Collect for Courage, Lutheran Service Book  © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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