Newness. Not just new goals and hopes and dreams but new sorrows and burdens and heartbreaks, too. A new year beginning is full of endings. A year ending is like filling-in the last page of a precious, gifted journal or the last bit of wax melting away from the favorite scented candle. We know there are new journals to begin; they will be just as sweet and comforting to hold and pen into. We’ll light new candles, and their gentle flames will fill the room with ease just as well as the last.
Each year that passes, though, takes with it the older things. These things or people or memories or places that we wanted, so badly, to continue to hold. We value the old maybe more than the new: traditions, familiar faces. Each new thing is sweet inasmuch as it is what we already were longing for.
The recent advent now passed was about hope. New years and their resolutions are about hope. No matter the time of year, we are hoping. “Born Again to a Living Hope” is the title of a section of scripture found in 1 Peter 1:3-9. Born: something completely new, a starting moment. Again: implying a repeated act. Our souls are not satisfied without paradoxes, it seems.
Here, in 1 Peter, Paul shares,
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Every moment that brought 2014 closer was making my heart heavy. It is still heavy– I’m longing for so many new things, and I’m pondering the old and don’t want to let all of it go. New York pastor, Timothy Keller, teaches us what Peter says in this small portion 1 Peter that I quoted above. In his sermon he speaks of the hope that Paul tells us we have. It’s a hope that doesn’t ignore the horrors of our pasts, the sufferings of our present, or the trails yet to come. This hope remains no matter the circumstance and will, surely, be fulfilled.
The sermon is titled “Born into Hope” and can be listened to for free here.