Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
A little late, I realize, for “New Year” reflections. Especially for you Grace Life readers who read this some time in February. By now we might have broken fifty-three resolutions. And maybe we are thinking already of spring. Bear with me….
Imagine you are with me as I write this, and it is New Year’s Eve, and you are not particularly interested that some ball is going to drop, but you might be a bit concerned that some bomb will soon drop, and you are looking ahead and wondering if this next year will be more of the same, and how you will be the same or different, and if this will be the year you meet Mr. or Miss Right, and your ship will come in….
Or maybe even, besides thinking of losing weight, you are thinking of how this year you will lay aside the weight that does so easily hinder your running a particularly grueling but blessed race….
At the beginning of a new year we think of things, well, new. New, first ever, will be January 1, 2005. Every day this next year as new as a filly, and new sonnets, new joy, new life, new tidal waves, new sadness, new deaths….
The prospect of things new is grist for the grumpy thoughts of the pessimist. Bad knees this year. Two thousand and five will be a backache. Tsunami today. Volcano tomorrow. Right in my back yard.
Optimists, however, relish the new, and the new year too. Sweetheart shipped a dozen roses in January 2004. Two thousand and five my ship will come in. War today. Peace tomorrow. All over the world.
Believers think of the new in light of God’s Word. The result is an outlook surely not sourly pessimistic, nor pie-in-the sky-optimistic. Could it be something like optipessimism? Call it realism.
For, on the one hand, Scripture itself speaks of hopeless and ugly things—all sorts of them. Things which have always been. Things which are. And things which, no doubt, will dance disgracefully into this new year, and leave a peculiar odor of hellfire in whatever theatre, museum, laboratory, university, or church they wiggle and jiggle and giggle and finagle.
For the Bible speaks of sin. It speaks of a whole world that lies in wickedness. Yes, it really does! And therefore vanity of vanities, all is vanity, says the Book. And earthlings building towers making a name for themselves. And Athenians spending all their time with new philosophies. And men doing with men that which is unseemly.
And so it shall be! 2005? More vanities. Bigger towers. Wiggling theologians and theologies of jelly. Giggling parishioners with itching ears. Democrats. Throw it on the wall and call it art. Funny laws for wicked marriages. Broken home after broken home. And earthquakes and waves which are condemnation.
On the other hand, many are the beautiful and lovely things of which Scripture speaks. God our Savior. Wonderful. Counselor. The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace. The fairest of ten thousand. The Sun of Righteousness. Predestination. Creation. Providence. Israel. Bethlehem. The Cross. Blessings in heavenly places. Forgiveness of sins. Fruit of the Spirit. Though thou passest through the waters I will be with you. Church. Mission. Heaven. God shaking the earth to save. And wave upon wave of grace….
Many, too, such is the written revelation, are the new and lovely and hopeful things. Things like these: the new covenant of God with us in Jesus; a new creature by virtue of the new birth; a new man; a new heart; a new spirit; a new commandment of love; a new name given in heaven; a new heaven and earth and Jerusalem of glory; and God will do a new thing.
These good news things, revelation from heaven, the old and the new news of God and salvation in Jesus, we have now. And truly they shall be coming in this next year!
Well then, in 2005 the prospects are equally dismal for those who wish they all could be California girls, for those whose gospel is tolerance, and for all cultured despisers of God and His Truth. Two thousand five will be, for all such, a year of further and hastening judgment. It will be one year nearer the time when men and women and societies and especially apostate churches and Calminian colleges and seminaries, all of whom either began with God and chose for Man, or who have never ceased from Man, will cast their idols of silver and of gold and of theology to the moles and to the bats to go into the clefts of the rocks…for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth (Is. 2:20-22).
But what a great year ahead of us, God’s people! He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Rom. 8:32)?! Come what may in this year, shall not our Lord be coming, and that, right quickly? When we sin in 2005, when we show ourselves unworthy of the least bit of divine favor in 2005, shall not God lead us to repentance, and enable us to overcome our pride, our tempers, our lusts, our bad habits, and our own disgraceful dancing with death? In whatever we may experience, whatever trial or disease or distress, and though we be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, will not the Lord our Lord be making us more than conquerors, and ever keeping us in His love, and continually guiding us…to glory (Rom. 8:31ff.; Ps. 73:24)?
That is the news, dear reader! Do we hear it now? If we hear it, we shall be…
Listening. Listening and Reflecting. Listening and more meditative. Putting down cell phones more. Picking up Bibles more. Thinking, not just doing. Comfortable with quiet. Not worried that the rats or cancer or both are winning. Renewed by the power of the True and truly Good news. Not needing to know what internet junkies know. And then…
Believing. When there is a hearing of the news of God, a hearing that bends the ear, a hearing that loves to hear, this is the hearing of faith. And for faith. And for, therefore, a keen interest and delight, even in this our idolatrous and sensuous age, in the things not seen, the joys of spiritual blessings, the music from heaven. And therefore…
Singing. Oh yes, Grace Life! Two thousand and five! Let it find us…singing!
For with the news from God our Father for Jesus’ sake has come a new song. Hear it? Heaven’s inhabitants sing it—its Elders (Rev. 5:9), and its tabernacle choir of the 144,000 (Rev. 14). Jesus sang it when He came to do the will of His Father (Ps. 40:3, 7, 8). Composed it with the Father from everlasting did He. Came cooing it in Bethlehem’s manger did He. Soloed on the cross, did He. Preaches it in the great congregation, does He. And has written the score of the gospel on our heart, has He!
So we. The new song. Of worthy is the Lamb! Of God with us and grace now and forever! God’s news. For the new song put in our hearts and on our lips. And for our life, a song of praise. For the new year, and every day in it, beloved in Christ! Such a song!
Sing it! So you can hear it, and do live it. Yes, so that your life is a song and, yes, a dance, a lovely dance.
For the better song and gladness and godliness of your fellow tenors and second sopranos.
So that others still stuck singing a song to Self hear you, see you, and behold your God in you, and are saved to sing and to join the choir.
So God and angels and just men made perfect hear it. And clap.
Grace Life—for singing in the new year!
Happy, song-full great glad news year!
See you there. Sing you there!