Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saying goodbye to the year

Today is the last day of this liturgical year. As the sun goes down, and we pray evening prayer this evening we begin the season of Advent.

We conclude our reading of the Book of Revelation with the image of the world in which we can all one day live.

An angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the street, On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found anymore.

It will be a world free from sin and evil, sickness and death. It will be a world in which we will love as we are loved. And finally, we will understand how we are loved by God.

Today as we bring 2014 to a close, as we prepare to light the first can, see that first flicker of light and begin the new cycle of life; perhaps it is good for us to reflect not on our failings but on God's love.

The old Baltimore Catechism answer to the question, why did God make me, is not a bad one even now.

God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven.

The four verbs: to know, to love, to serve, to be happy. The first three lead to the fourth. They are in fact the only path to the fourth.

Prepare to let go of the year that is ending and start over. The liturgical cycle is like the seasons of the year, the same and yet each year new. Each time we begin again we are given the chance to draw closer to God, to make better choices. In this new year how will I know him, love him, and serve him more fully than I did the last time 'round? Perhaps a first step will be a good confession to wipe the slate clean.

Truly letting go of the past is hard for us all. We cling to our failures as if they were gold. The Book of Revelation gives us images of life giving water, medicinal fruit. Let us eat and drink, and as the sun goes down tonight, let us light the candle and begin anew.