When, but on New Year’s Eve, is the world so focused upon time? To be sure, alarm clocks are set and calendars are consulted all through the year. But never does time receive as much united attention as when the minutes, then seconds, are counted off to mark the end one year, and bring in the next.
Turning to a new calendar year seldom brings an instant major change in life—no more than a person’s birthday does. But, like a birthday, New Years is a marker in life. Decades from now someone will say, “Remember in 2012…?”, just as some folks now ask, “Remember in 1957…?” or, “Remember in 1981…?”
Whether the year comes to an end with sober reflection, or by being anything but sober, no one misses the fact that another year has passed. Another whole year!
What was that year like? Will we remember it with fondness or sorrow? Did we meet the expectations we had set for ourselves in that year? Was it a year to be proud of—or not? Does remembrance of the year bring mixed feelings? Many do.
What about next year? What will be written in our Book of Life by the time 2014 rolls to the top of the calendar list? How many weddings will we attend? How many funerals? Who will be missing from our circle of loved ones 12 months from now? And, just how many New Years do we have left?
50 years ago a group of teenagers chatted about the coming year, and what they thought future years would bring them. They had the usual dreams, and the usual unrealistic expectations. They didn’t claim to know the future, but they were quite certain it would be exciting. One of them was especially excited about something that President Kennedy had recently done. He told his friends all about the newly formed Green Berets. He predicted that one day we would see him wearing one of those green hats.
That never happened. He did end up in the Army. He was drafted. He reached the rank of sergeant. In Vietnam he won some medals. In Vietnam he lost the use of one leg—and part of his mind. That’s when time pretty much stopped for him. Visit him today, and he will talk about his hope of becoming a Green Beret next year—in 1963!
Who would have thought? Who would have expected? Who knew? God.
The Sergeant is all right, even though his memory has skipped 50 years. The New Year will also be all right for him. The same Lord who held him in his hands ever since his Baptism, the same Lord who shielded him from death in combat, that One will guard and keep him until the final second of his earthly life is counted off. After all, his times are in God’s hands.
And so are ours.
O Lord God, our times surely are in your hands. Sometimes we would like to know what the future holds. Sometimes we find ourselves worrying that things may not work out well for us. But then our faith steps forward to remind us that this is not for us to be concerned about. So allow us to enter the New Year with the confidence that no matter where we might be located, no matter what circumstances we might be in during the coming years, our lives will not be at the mercy of chance, or someone else’s decisions. Our lives are held in your loving hands. For this, we thank you. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military