Sunday, December 27, 2009

For Beginners Only

“Happy New Year” we say. The expression carries different meanings for different people, but I rather suspect that for most of us, it harbors the hope of a new beginning - a chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Forget the messed up and mangled moments of the previous twelve months. Tear off the page from the calendar, and there staring you in the face is a fresh new year with a fresh new twelve months full of fresh new opportunities. The New Year brings both pardon and promise, amnesty and opportunity, a chance to drop the “if onlys” of last year and pick up the “next times” of the new year.

And notice: the New Year rolls around every twelve months. We even call it - don’t we? – new years, not new year. We don’t get just one chance to make a new beginning, we get many chances; and therein lies the “Gospel” of it. A good beginning is the kind you repeat many times, not just annually but daily– to get up every day and choose all over again to be the person God created you to be. Somewhere in his writings, where now I can’t remember, Frederick Buechner says that when he wakes in the morning he tries to remember that in a real sense it is his re-creation day. To be sure, THE creation happened in the distant past, but as Buechner arises in the morning to greet the new day, he reminds himself that the only “creation” that truly matters is today! And so he imagines himself waking from what he calls the “death of sleep” to greet a whole new creation and a whole new day and a whole new self created just for that day. It is as though God has re-created him all over again…just for today. Buechner says that when he arises in the morning, he tries to imagine God saying all over again what he must have said on Buechner’s birthday: “Let there be Buechner!” Not a bad way to get up in the morning, is it!

I know, I know, we bungled it badly last year, but that was last year. That was then, this is now. It’s “re-creation day,” time to begin again!

Hear the Gospel: There is no failure, no grief, no guilt, no physical, mental, emotional or moral darkness that lies beyond God’s grasp and grace and goodness. “Christians,” Jürgen Moltmann said, “are eternal beginners.”

And so, here’s a New Year’s blessing for 2010: Tear off the page, wipe the board clean, drop the “if onlys” of 2009, and pick up the “next times” of 2010. “Let there be (insert your name here)!” The Gospel is that God’s gracious “good news” is for beginners only.

1 comment:

Ken Summerlin said...

"Let there be Ken!" How refreshing to think that this is how God proclaimed my creation and that I can do that anew every morning.

Thanks for sharing that.