We have come to the end of 2020 and are about to begin 2021. Most everyone seems ready to be done with 2020. But here’s the thing. January 1st is really just the day after December 31st. In our Christian calendar which does not really acknowledge the “new year,” January 1 is the 8th day of Christmas after the 7th and we remember Jesus especially on the 8th day because little Jewish boys are circumcised and given their names on the 8th day after their birth. Jesus wasn’t even named Jesus yet when the shepherds met him, in other words.
All this to say, time is a strange thing. And the only time we have is the present. Sure we can and should remember and learn from the past. We should anticipate and hope for the future. But the only time we actually live in is the present. or Christians, this present takes on even more meaning by becoming eternity or what the theologian Paul Tillich called “the eternal now.” The present is not just a moment, but our life with God. And that eternity doesn’t start when we die, but is now in our living in this world and in the next, as we say.
Many if not all of us are ready to put this pandemic stuff behind us. We want racism to end. We would like everyone to have enough. But the truth is, God comes to us – Emmanuel – in the imperfect present. We won’t leave behind the challenges of 2020 by stepping into January 1 as if it were a different universe. Instead, we live out our faithfulness in the days God gives us, in the eternal now. And there is much to appreciate these days. There are many people to love. There is work to be done. People are getting sick. Our world is sick. Racism is clearly so deeply sown into our souls that we can’t just forget it and imagine we are done; there is more work to do for us to love our neighbor as ourselves no matter what they look like. And there are many folks who are suffering anew in this time of economic upheaval with too little and maybe even no work to do. How do we reach out and help?
Looking with hope and anticipation for the year ahead, there is a vaccine coming. There will be rebuilding and starting anew. Sometime in 2021 I hope we will again be meeting as the people of Kingston Parish in our church buildings for worship and doing all the wonderful outreach things we do together. Finances are tough for the church these days too. And we are sadly saying goodbye to many of our beloved members through death or their moving on to retirement facilities. I have recently been joking that we may need to open a satellite congregation in Williamsburg where a number of our folks have moved. There are things we are learning these present
days that will be invaluable in our rebuilding and starting
Our days are challenging and sometimes just plain diffi-
cult. And they are glorious and full of God’s Grace and
Love. Let us face the challenges of each present moment
with the eternal Grace and Love our God gives us.
The Very Rev. Gary Barker