For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Of Endings... and Beginnings

I don't know that I've written about it here that much, but I've also made no secret of the fact that I'm a pretty big fan of the BBC SciFi show Doctor Who.  If you haven't seen it, I can't explain it here, just go with me.  I'm old enough to have watched the Fourth Doctor back in the day, the guy with the big hair, big grin, big scarf.  He's my favorite.  In fact, last Christmas my oldest daughter sent off to get me a personalized Christmas card from Tom Baker himself, the actor who played the Fourth Doctor. 

Anyway, we're on Doctor number Twelve now, and I love him as well. But due to the inner workings of the BBC, there was no series this year (just one more reason to hate 2016), but we finally got to see the Doctor back on the screen with this year's Christmas special.  Again, if you haven't seen it, can't explain it, just keep reading.

Near the end of episode, the Doctor is reflecting on past events, specifically the loss of the love of his life (which we saw in last year's Christmas special...sort of...).  And in a very melancholy mood, he says something very profound.  He says, “Things end. That's all. Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's always happy. Be happy.”

He's talking about his relationship with River Song, but could also be hinting at the fact that this next series will be marking some endings for this show; possibly even this actor's run in the role (though I hope not!).  But he's also making a pretty good observation on life in general.

As we come to the end of another year, we mark lots of endings.  Some of them not so sad at all.  Lots of folks are happy to see this year end.  But still, in our individual lives, there are endings that are not so happy.  We've lost loved ones.  Family has moved on.  We're all another year older.  The end of the year makes most folks a bit reflective, even melancholy. 

And yet, the end of this year is also just the beginning of the next. And it's not for nothin' that we all scream, “Happy New Year!”  It's a time for new beginnings, new hopes, new goals, new dreams.  Everything ends, but everything begins again, too.

After all, as Christian people, this defines our entire existence.  Scripture tells us that those in Christ are new creations, the old is gone, the new has come.  It's all about forgetting the past, and moving toward the future.  And that's happy, because we know Whose hands that future is in.  As John Newton wrote:  “Help us to praise Thee for the past, and trust Thee for the rest.” 

In the long run, we are looking for the ultimate ending/beginning.  We anxiously await our Savior's return, marking an end to this world, and a beginning to the Kingdom Eternal.  And even there there is a mixture of sadness and joy.  He's coming will mark the coming of judgment as well.  That ending will be a sad one for many, those who don't now Christ, who haven't come to Him in faith, trusting in His finished work on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for their sin. A sad end indeed for those who will spend eternity separated from our King in the torments of hell.  And even sad for those of us in Christ, at least now as we think about it.  (Which should also be a motivation for us sharing the gospel, but that's a whole other post).
Yet, the ending is also a beginning.  And in that, there will be great joy.  In the revelation our Lord gave to the apostle John we are told, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."' (Revelation 21:3-5)

What joy awaits in that new beginning.  A joy we begin to experience with the new birth, coming to Christ in faith.  A joy we even get a glimpse of each new year that rolls around.  The old has gone, the new has come.  Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's always happy. Be happy.

I pray you have a happy new year. And even more, I pray you have the true joy of new life in Christ, and are looking forward with me to that greatest of all new beginnings.  Amen, come, Lord Jesus!

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