Blessings upon you and your family in this year of our Lord, 2021!
For many around the world, the dawning of January brings with it the promise of good intentions and new starts. Although the New Year of the Church began with Advent, the countdown to a new calendar year is no less exciting or psychologically important. After a year like 2020, with the many challenges that it presented, it’s no wonder we have high hopes for healing in 2021.
Yet, I am reminded that just because we want things to be different or more normal, the truth is change often comes more slowly than we desire in some cases and much too quickly in areas we wish would remain constant. There are ways we can affect positive change: wearing our masks, getting vaccinated, curtailing social gatherings are just a few. Still, God’s plan and timeframe do not necessarily match our own schedule, and so I also look to scripture for further comfort.
“Blessed are they who have patience and persevere.” No, this is not one of the Beatitudes from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. This statement actually comes from chapter twelve of the Book of Daniel written during the sixth century BCE. Perhaps you recall the story of Daniel in the den of lions from childhood. Instead of being devoured by the lions, God brings friendship and understanding between the two otherwise natural adversaries. Daniel is saved by God so that later Daniel can help save the people of Israel. His words of patience harken to his own journey of waiting to better know the will of God in a frightening and uncertain time.
Later, around 60 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Over six hundred years after Daniel, Paul taps into the same message of patience and perseverance amid a trying time. In the Book of Colossians, Paul also reminds us of the glory of Christ’s resurrection, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another (3:12-13).
It is in this vein that I make my New Years’ resolutions and look to the future with patience and renewed perseverance. Only I can control my own choices and reactions, and I am well aware how those actions can both positively and negatively affect others, so I choose to be hopeful, kind, loving and forgiving. May this year bring you closer to God and each other, even if the welfare of all of God’s creation mandates we continue to remain six feet apart!