Changing from 2020 to 2021 this past week can prompt us to reflect on the matter of years.
Some people may designate the year with “CE,” short for “common era,” but others stick with the original designation “AD,” short for the Latin anno domine, “year of the Lord.” Developing that system in the sixth century, Dionysius Exiguus may have missed the Lord’s birth year by four to six years, but nevertheless the first day of each year is essentially connected to the eighth day after Jesus’s birth.
Some churches observe Dec. 31 as the Eve of that Feast of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, and other churches observe Dec. 31 as New Year’s Eve.
Our church body’s appointed readings and such for New Year’s Eve emphasize such themes as human beings’ fleeting nature (Psalm 90:1-12), being ready for the Lord’s return (Luke 12:35-40), and so living every day with repentance over our sin and trust in God to forgive our sin for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of the whole world.
After the AD 2020 that we have all had, more people than usual may be puzzled over the permissive will of an all-powerful and good God, but the real question is not why bad things happen to good people, but why good things happen to bad people (see Genesis 6:5).
We all may hope and even pray that AD 2021 will be better than the year before, but, as bad as AD 2020 seems to have been, the year was still full of God’s love, mercy, and grace that offer to all people the forgiveness of sins through God’s preached Gospel, Holy Baptism, individual Absolution, and the Sacrament of the Altar.
The appointed prayer for New Year’s Eve commits the old year to God’s mercy and forgiveness, commends to His blessing the times yet to come, and asks Him to abide with us that we may always trust the Name of Jesus.
At all times, God’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9): every minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, century and millennium — in fact, His grace is sufficient for us for all eternity.
Nothing — not the coronavirus, not any government, not the worst scenario of the worst conspiracy theory — can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31b-39).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.