As the end of the year fast approaches, we are left wondering where the time has gone. This year has felt somewhat ‘normal’ in comparison to previous years. Yet “the time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29). Time, as everyone knows, is simply duration; but it may be either the duration of the world itself, or the brief space of an individual’s life on earth; or it may be employed to specify the precise date of some important occurrence.
For many, this time of year is just another holiday. For others, it is a time of deep reflection, contemplating the mix of joys and sorrows, goals met, and goals missed, friendships gained, and friendships lost. For Orthodox Christians, and followers of Jesus in general, the end of one year and the beginning of a new year has no unique significance; but it is still a time of year for celebration. A celebration of Christ. A celebration of God’s incarnation. A celebration of God’s greatest gift to us. Himself.
It is a time for Christians to pause and reflect. Moses asked of the Lord, “Teach us to number our days, so we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Time—seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years—is a gift to us from a good God. To wisely follow him, then, is to redeem our time “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).
Using our time to reflect on the year that has passed, especially considering the upcoming feast of Christmas, should lead us to a feeling of gratitude. God always has perfect timing, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Gal. 4:4-7).
So no matter how the past year has gone, good or bad, knowing that Christ was born so that we are no longer enslaved to sin, but free as children and heirs of His Kingdom, we must rejoice. Rejoice and be grateful for everything so that we too together with the angels at Christmas proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14).
I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Χρόνια Πολλά! May God continue to bless you and guide you all through the new year.
Fr Dimitrios Papaikonomou