New Year - New Millennium
A Happy New Millennium - A Happy New Century - and, not least, a Happy New Year !!
God willing, most of us will greet another New Year beyond 2000. Moreover, there is every possibility that a new-born child today will greet the unfolding of a new century in 2100, whereas there is absolutely no prospect of any of us alive today being around to greet the next millenium !! However, we have all been privileged to be part of what is reckoned to be a significant turning point in human history.
I trust that when you read this letter, we shall all have survived the millenium "hype", the much prophesied computer "melt down", and the doomsday warnings of a few extremist religious sects. Slowly but surely we shall be getting back to "auld claes and parritch" - to quote that wonderful old Scots saying.
Yet it cannot be denied that, though people will continue to live, work, retire, make love, fall ill, mourn, rejoice, die in this new millenium, that though, for most people life will continue much as it has always been, there is nonetheless the feeling that we are standing on the threshold of something new.
We have broken free from the stranglehold of previous centuries - centuries which have witnessed both man at his most angelic and man at his most brutish - or have we ? Newness is in the air as a new millenium unfolds - the prospect of new beginnings, new frontiers to cross, new voyages of discovery, new break-throughs in medical research and genetics, new vistas opening up.
However it remains my conviction that all this potential newness will turn sour and rancid unless it is shaped, energised and seasoned by "Gospel" newness - by a God who is capable of doing a new thing with that which is old and decrepit and unredeemed, namely, the old Adam which, to a greater or lesser extent we all personify. For this new millenium we need, above all else, a new mind and a new heart, new ears for hearing and new eyes for seeing, a new humanity rooted and centered in Christ who alone makes all things new.
While millennia are, in one sense, merely a way of measuring time, we cannot forget, and in particular an increasingly secularised world cannot forget, that we would not be celebrating a new millenium, were it not for the fact that something savagely new broke into the world 2000 years ago - the Word that existed beyond all time became flesh and blood in one called Jesus of Nazareth.
My prayer is that the new millenium will be a time of release and renewal, when people not only re-discover God, but re-discover God with such a send of immediacy and power and newness that it will make even the age of faith in the 16th century look like a mere nursery-school attempt at capturing spirituality.
If that is my prayer, then my dream is that the image of God will become more visible in us, and that we in turn shall recognise and reverence the image of God in other people. My dream is that fullness of life will become the inalienable right of every man, woman and child, that the brutish realities of poverty, famine, injustice and prejudice will be banished from the face of the earth, that nations will study war no more as a means of resolving human disputes. What better way to ensure that the newness of the millenium remains new !
To turn such dreams into reality is not wishful thinking, for such are the dreams that God dreams - dreams of a new heaven and a new earth - and God's dreams always have a habit of becoming reality - sooner or later, Let's help to make it sooner.
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