A New Year?s Thought
As to new things … I’ve recently seen a new movie, I read a new book, and I have new projects to be working on. There is a blog called “The New Jew,” which says it’s about Jewish philanthropy, a British site, “the UK’s first and only website devoted to the new Christian,” by which they don’t mean the Jews of medieval Europe who were forced to convert, or pretend to convert, to Catholicism—sometimes called New Christians, or Marranos—but those who’ve newly decided to believe in Jesus as Messiah and Savior.
Then there’s a website called New-Beer.com, a site for new Jewish books, and the new New Year’s ball, said to contain 32,256 LEDs and to be “20% more efficient” than the old New Year’s ball. And let’s not forget, come January 20 we’ll have a new President.
The recaps of ’08 and the guesses at what lies ahead in’09 give us both closure on the past and hope for our future. Of course, our divisions of these time-compartments are arbitrary. The world being what it is, events have a way of ignoring the tidy rollover of the clock. A few short years ago, any hope for the new millennium had to face the reality of 9/11. This year, the current situation in Gaza is a Middle East juggernaut of instability, rolling over the turn of the calendar like an out-of-control golem. “Life,” John Lennon once famously said, “is what happens to your while you’re busy making other plans”—including New Year’s parties, including getting fitted for shoes or a denture, including awaiting a new Administration in Washington. The annual recap/forecast ritual is, maybe, a way of exerting a bit of control in the midst of an inherently uncertain reality.
I am a believer in Yeshua, but I have no crystal ball into whether I’ll wake up tomorrow well or ill, whether an earthquake will rearrange my home into a sculpture of rubble, or whether I’ll get struck seven times by lightning, like the character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I don’t know what a new day will bring, and there are plenty of things praying people will want to pray about.
What I do know is that while I can’t predict tomorrow, some of my most profound realities are new. I’ve embraced what Jeremiah and Jesus both call the new covenant. I’ve become, so Paul says, a new creation. And I look forward to what the Bible describes as a new heaven and new earth. This sustains me in the uncertainty of what 2009 will bring, and it challenges me as well to translate these realities into acts of tikkun olam, repair of the world, doing my part in re-newing the world around me.
Scholar in Residence, Missionary
Rich Robinson is a veteran missionary and senior researcher at the San Francisco headquarters of Jews for Jesus. Rich has written several books on Jewishness and Jesus, and he received his Ph.D. in biblical studies and hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1993.