I like to start the New Year by going back to the beginning of my Bible, so on January 1stI turned to Genesis 1 and started reading the beautiful story of Creation. My eyes paused on a familiar verse that seemed new and fresh that day. It was Genesis 1: 14, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.’” I was thinking about the passage of time that day, and the Spirit began to speak to me through this verse. By God’s providence, the sun and moon make the earth habitable…but they also help us measure the flow of time. They “mark seasons and days and years.” Amazingly, our planet circles the sun in 365.256 days, which means that without blasting into outer space, getting on a plane, or even walking out the front door, we travel 584 million miles every single year!
The implication of Genesis 1:14 is that not only can every one of those 584 million miles be marked, but that they matter. Most of us mark the passing seasons, days, and years with alarm clocks, and calendars; but many also mark them with office parties, holiday feasts, birthday celebrations, and the practice of weekly worship. Admittedly, some days are more memorable than others are. Some we would like to forget because they are dull or full of frustration or pain. Others are un-forgettable because they are filled with transcendent beauty and joy. Then again, many of those millions of miles are some mixture of the two. This past Sunday I had the honor of officiating at a wonderful event: the wedding of Jordan Baldridge and Hailey Turner. Jordan’s parents, Kristen and Bryan, have been friends and co-workers since my first years in pastoral ministry at Granada Hills Presbyterian Church. For Lisa and me it is one of the benefits of the passing years that we now enjoy decades-long friendships. We are seeing our children and our friends’ children grow into adulthood and begin to chart their life’s direction. This week I’ve been thinking about another milestone: Tuesday January 8 will mark the 30thanniversary of my ordination, which also took place at Granada Hills Presbyterian Church. I plan to visit the church in the afternoon and have lunch with a friend to mark the day. It’s a simple way to say that time matters, that those millions of miles matter, that we should take time to celebrate and cherish the important seasons of our lives.
Marking daysmatters, but marking liveseven more so. On January 12thSt. John’s remembers and celebrates two beloved members of St. John’s – Elizabeth Gottlieb and Elizabeth Hedges. Both of these dear women loved and trusted in Jesus whose sacrifice on the cross and whose victory over sin and death enables us to mark the movement of sun, moon, and stars in the light of heaven’sgreater glory. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:
40 There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory. 42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritualbody!”
The biblical writers observed the motion of sun and moon and stars with a deep awareness of the purposefulness and plan of God. They invite us to travel every single mile of our earthly lives with the same awareness and hope-filled wonder. As we look ahead to the joys and challenges that await, maywe mark this new season, and every mile of this new day and year, by keeping our eyes fixed on the “luminous Nazarene” – God’s Risen Son, our Savior, and follow Him, the Light of the World.