In case you don’t hear it sometime during the next 72 hours, just go here for a Julie Andrews rendition of the classic New Year’s Eve version of Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne. “Auld Lang Syne,” we’re reminded every year, is old Scots for the “old long since.” The poem and the song are about the ambiguities of the past and of memories – should times and friends past be remembered or not? The answers seems to be that it is good to remember; we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
What about the old long since of 2014, then?
One of the readings in this morning’s Daily Office was from Isaiah 12. I was particularly taken by verses 5 and 6:
“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
The prophecy anticipates God’s great deliverance of captive Israel and the restoration of ruined Jerusalem. At Christmas we celebrated the coming of the messiah, the one who delivers us from bondage to sin and death and restores all things – a new heaven and a new earth. The joy of the Christian life is living in relationship with the one who has done gloriously, the Holy One in our midst.
By the standard of profit and loss, 2014 has been a mixed bag for all of us, some of us showing more profit than loss and some of us more loss than profit. But profit and loss is not the measure of life with God. The measure of life with God is the reality and the joy of his presence in our midst in and through all things. By that best of all standards, 2014 has been a very good year. I think I will sing praises.
Among the lyrics of my song of praise, version 2.014, are those that include:
- The arrival of a new member to our family, Ada Clare on September 2.
- The wedding of our daughter Alanna and her beloved Jonathan on November 15.
- Another year of the blessings of Christian marriage, good health, and our growing family for Becky and me.
- Great friends here in Langhorne and far away (with special thanks for those with whom I spend times of study in California and North Carolina).
I will sing of:
- Good books read (Best literary fiction: Lila, by Marilynne Robinson; Best airplane-book fiction: Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy; Best new Bible Commentary: Mark, by James Edwards; best obscure theology: The Shape of Pneumatology by John McIntyre; best church leadership and ministry: Mission Drift by Peter Greer and Chris Horst).
- Wonderful music heard and hymns sung (I think I’ll stick with In Christ Alone in the contemporary category and This Is My Father’s World in the traditional category).
- Sights seen (including the Great Smokey Mountains, Williamsburg, Virginia, California’s Pacific coast, and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala).
The LPC verse will include:
- Lord’s Day worship week by week
- Gathering around the Word (with special thanks for the summer 8:01 classes and the Men’s Wednesday morning study).
- Welcoming Ed White as our Interim Youth Director.
- The remarkable group of elders I am privileged to lead and serve
- Baptisms! And the faithful mothers and fathers bringing their children to the waters of the sacrament
- Our amazing reach into the world through Hunting Park Christian Academy in Philadelphia, PLM in Guatemala, Hope Kibuye Hospital in Burundi, and the compassionate work of our Deacons close to home.
So I will sing a song of praise in full awareness of how hard the year was for all of us, and some more than others; perhaps some of you more than me. But that’s our choice, isn’t it? Shall we take a cup of kndness and lift our voices in praise of God’s presence in days of auld lang syne, or shall we live in the very real sorrow of our losses?
Those of you who were in worship at LPC much this summer and fall will remember this photo taken at a refugee camp in Erbil, Kurdistan. Its thousand words speak of a light that shines in the darkness and how the darkness does not overcome it.
Yes, I will close 2014 by singing of my redeemer.
See you Sunday!