Life Notes—December 29, 2011
“He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” Ecclesiastes 3:10-13
Christmas, at least the traditional American version, is over. The child has been born, the presents opened and travels concluded as we prepare for the next big celebration—New Year’s Eve. News stories opine about the “Best of 2011.” There will be numerous predictions for 2012 about the economy,Iraqminus US troops, global warming, and the Jayhawk football fortunes. New Year’s Eve has become a time to party—to oust the old and welcome the new. Unfortunately, it has also become an excuse for excesses, as have most of our holidays, where many will drink too much, eat too much, stay out too late and begin the New Year with a whimper and a headache.
But there is something holy about the New Year and, at least in my mind, it has more in common with Christmas than just its proximity on the calendar. Ditto for the winter solstice, celebrated by pagans for centuries upon centuries as a time of new birth. The solstice, on December 22nd this year, is when the sun falls to its lowest point in the southern sky and begins its annual trek to the north. In terms of sunlight it is the shortest day of the year. From that point until the summer solstice the daylight hours get progressively longer. Even though the deepest part of winter may be yet to come, the lengthening days give us hope and remind us that spring is coming.
Although some feathers are ruffled when similarities are drawn between Christian and pagan celebrations, I cannot believe December 25th was randomly selected as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ. It seems to me, in the absence of Biblical evidence, it has no more chance of being the actual date of Christ’s birth than any other day. Yet, the time of year selected coincides with the winter solstice, the rebirth of the Sun, as well as the birth of a new calendar year. God’s Son manifests in human form to bring us a new life. New Year’s Day ushers in a new beginning. The sun’s cycle begins anew. Rebirth and hope. Hope for better days. Hope for improved health. Hope for peace on earth. It is a time to celebrate second chances and an opportunity to refocus our lives on change for the better. Whether we celebrate the birth of Son the birth of the New Year or the rebirth of the sun, light is returning to our world—and that is cause to celebrate!
Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall, downtown. Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the downtown sanctuary. Contemporary worship at the west campus begins at 9:00 and 11:00. Communion will be celebrated at all services.
Come home to church this Sunday. 2012 atFirstChurchis calling!
Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator