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Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

Yes, you read that right, Happy New Year and Merry Christmas. This isn’t the typical order in which we arrange our season’s greetings, but this hasn’t been a typical year. For as long as I can remember the season of Advent has been a time of building excitement and anticipation for the birthday of our Lord and all the festivities and joy of Christmas; the coming of a new year has always felt more like an afterthought to me. But now, for many of us, the coming of a new year is exciting in its own right.

About a year ago, as we were preparing to begin 2020, we wished and prayed that it would be a happy one. Looking back now I would imagine that many people would say the new year did not meet expectations. We are excited to kick off the dust from our feet as we prepare to enter 2021, in hopes that this year will be better. God willing, next year all this COVID stuff will be behind us. We can finally return to life as normal. We can hug and shake hands, gather with friends in our favorite restaurants, go to concerts, and social events, we can finally return to church! God willing.

So why not wish one another a Happy New Year first? After all, the calendar year sets the framework in which our lives are all organized and by which our schedules are built. Within the context of the calendar year we all use, the New Year starts at the very beginning and Christmas finally comes at the end…like an afterthought. God willing next year will be better, and also God willing it won’t. Either way, a Merry Christmas may (God willing) lift our spirits before the year is through.

No one could have foreseen the challenges we would face in 2020 and no one can tell what 2021 will hold. Though it had at one time been a “Happy New Year,” 2020 now nears its end with hardly a happiness in sight, save for a Merry Christmas. Christmas comes at the end when God breaks into time and space in the dead of winter to bring life and immortality to light! This year may seem unsalvageable but with Christ there is nothing that can’t be redeemed.

It has been difficult for us all to navigate these strange times. We have all had to make decisions about how to handle the unique challenges before us. Some choices have been good (as far as we can tell), others have been bad (God help us realize this), and for more still only time will tell what’s good or bad. In light of it all, we confess that we have sinned and must constantly rely on God for His grace and mercy.

Whatever the days, weeks, months, and new years have in store for you, Christ will come in the end to deliver you from every sin, danger, and even death itself. Christmas always comes at the end -whenever that may be- to show you your Savior and redeemer. This is not an afterthought, but the eternal will of God for you.

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