Friday, February 18, 2011

Making the New Year New

Writing in a bulletin for mission stations the writer comments on a passage that he rereads often. Jesus cures a blind man and tells him not go back to the village from which he came but to go home. What was it about the village that prompted Jesus to tell him not to return?  There is  much room for probing  the reasons for Jesus' orders. We have similar requests in scripture not to return the way one came and  to go  home another way.

In middle school, he remembers his beautiful cousin who turned the heads of many young men. The father  sent her to her husband's home far away from where they lived. The day  before the  marriage she took the middle school cousin  and went up the mountain behind the house with a bundle wrapped in cloth. In a  quiet cozy area, she undid her bundle removed notebooks, picture  albums, and piles of letters. She began very slowly to burn each piece. She never looked at him, and he turned his eyes away looking at the autumn sun shinning  in the distant river. The ashes the  wind did not  blow away, she buried very carefully in the earth.

There is a time for leave-taking: to leave what you have become accustomed to, the  comfortable, things you want to do, and those you love. The writer returned home over 20 years ago, to his Father's house. He has been getting rid of much of his old baggage, but he still hears the call of the sirens of  things he left behind. He has lost some of the happiness he once possessed, and is not as  faithful in doing  what he knows he should be doing. He knows keeping both village and God both in view are difficult.

With the beginning of the New Year, he wants help in doing  what his cousin did: 'burning'  the things that need to be left behind.

He remembers a foreign missionary,  still having difficulty with the language, tell his parishioners: " The worn out year has gone, and we have the new year. The year we have grown fond of has  callously left us. The gone year has gone, let us forget the old year along with the hatred, the scars and the things we made seem important. Let us make plans to be happy living in the new year. The new year is what is important.  Let us always stay awake and let us not tremble. Let us forget the old times. When you put your hand to the plow, and you continue to look behind, you could find yourself going to another village."                             

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