But you are the same, and your years have no end. (Psalm 102.27)
2020 will be unaffectionately remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a disruptive and trying time and we may feel relieved to enter 2021.
Yet we also know that there is no magic in a change of the calendar. The vaccines now being administered offer some optimism, but we remain under ‘lockdown’ and some experts have said we may not see significant changes until the third quarter of 2021.
Together with the Psalmist, we may cry, How long, O LORD? (Psalm 13.1). Yet we also express his faith: And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Ps. 39.7)
Though COVID was certainly the biggest newsmaker of last year and will surely be so again this year, we do well to remember that neither year is dated or named according to a virus. They are A.D. (Anno Domini) 2020 and 2021 - the Years of Our Lord.
Our years are numbered according to the birth of Jesus. This is now the two-thousand twenty-first year since His birth, which we continue to celebrate on this, the eighth day of Christmas.
Scholars now say that Jesus may have been born several years earlier than originally calculated; and in modern usage B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. are now often given the secular titles of B.C.E. and C.E. (Common Era). Even so, the fact remains that the world keeps time according to the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the ages, whose advent has inaugurated a new era in human history.
So whatever may lie ahead in A.D. 2021, we can be assured that it will be another Year of Our Lord.
Jesus Christ, the Name above all names, will continue to reign at God’s right hand in heaven until all things in this unruly world are brought into subjection under His feet (1 Cor. 15.25). Jesus Christ will continue to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Jesus Christ will continue to act and teach by His Spirit through His Church - and with that we are given a new opportunity to be His witnesses: to shine as His lights in the darkness, to show forth the faith, hope and love we have in Him, and to invite those who do not yet know Jesus to the knowledge and love of His Name.
As we labour for His sake, we can rest in the assurance that His never-failing providence orders all things in heaven and on earth. This world is beyond our control and understanding. Yet in the midst of it, God graciously spreads a table before us and issues this invitation: eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do (Ecc. 9:7).
So be sure to continue your festive celebration for the full twelve days of Christmas!
I wish you and your loved ones near and far a safe, healthy and blessed New Year,
O IMMORTAL Lord God, who inhabitest eternity, and hast brought thy servants to the beginning of another year: Pardon, we humbly beseech thee, our transgressions in the past, bless to us this New Year, and graciously abide with us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.