New Year

God Is Merciful: Reflections on 2020

I feel like I’m way out of sync. For me, 2020 was a year of unexpected blessing. Though some of what follows is probably in the category of self-indulgent (and boring) oversharing, I mostly mean it as an expression of thankfulness for undeserved mercies.

Work & Tech

In 2020, my work conditions improved a lot, as did the commute (home office!). At the same time, my work relationships—my connectedness to my peers—also improved, the reverse of what’s supposed to happen in a work-from-home dynamic.

I understand the “face to face is best,” bromide. It’s often true. In our case, our office already operated as a satellite of the main company facility pre-COVID, and all our involvement with company goings-on was remote. But it was awkward, low-tech., traditional remote. A single laptop and projector in one conference room connected with a similar set up out east. You couldn’t hear half the time. People laughed at jokes you missed. Meetings bred a sense of alienation rather than connection.

COVID pushed us all to Zoom and MS Teams and, just like that, we were interacting face to face. We could see and hear each person equally well—and be heard and seen equally well also. For us, Zoom meetings were a huge step forward in personal interaction.

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Rejoicing in the New Year

"Třanovský knew something about suffering. He lived during the devastating Thirty-Year War, was imprisoned once, exiled twice, and forced to move several times. Three of his children died, and both he and the people under his care suffered the consequences of wars, pillaging, and pestilence. He was bedridden and in pain for eight months before going to meet his Savior." - Ref21

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Sermon for New Year's Day

Sermon no. 1816, delivered on Thursday evening, January 1st, 1885, by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.”—Revelation 21:5.

HOW PLEASED WE ARE with that which is new! Our children’s eyes sparkle when we talk of giving them a toy or a book which is called new; for our short-lived human nature loves that which has lately come, and is therefore like our own fleeting selves. In this respect, we are all children, for we eagerly demand the news of the day, and are all too apt to rush after the “many inventions” of the hour. The Athenians, who spent their time in telling and hearing some new thing, were by no means singular persons: novelty still fascinates the crowd. As the world’s poet says—

“All with one consent praise new-born gawds.”

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A Week to Reflect

This is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and, through the years, I have learned how valuable this time at the end of the year really is. It allows us to evaluate and to look forward. While we can never truly plan the future (Jas. 4:13-14), attempting to prepare for it can be a wonderfully enriching experience.

This year’s calendar worked out perfectly. We observed Christmas last week, and we’ve already had the final Sunday of the year. That gave us these days to work on the last details for 2020 and plan for 2021. If your position allows you this luxury, I would strongly encourage you to try it. If you’ve already missed it, don’t despair. There’s still time to begin a tradition of preparing for the new year. As I explain how I look at the year ahead, I hope it might encourage you to consider your own planning for 2021.

I naturally think of the year in terms of holidays, seasons, themes, emphases and events that provide structure, richness and meaning. One reason 2020 was hard on me is that so many of my plans were interrupted, and every day from March to July tended to blend in with the rest. But as I grow in my responsibilities with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, I find that my calendar flows directly with the way in which I intuitively divide the year. And looking at the big picture first helps me fill in the gaps with details.

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