We are saying goodbye (“good riddance”) to the year 2020 and about to enter 2021, with a ton of trepidation and a ton of hope. Some of us celebrate the change with parties, as if Ringing Out the Old and Ringing In the New is an actual important date. And for others, it’s just another day.
And this year, many people look at the year 2020 and wish that it were wiped off the face of the universe. One person summarized the year as “like looking both ways before you cross the street and then getting hit by a submarine.” And so we look forward to 2021 as a chance to begin anew.
I am always astonished at how a new calendar year—a date on a page—can bring out such expectations of newness from us. I think it must have to do with the fact that we hang up a new calendar and see all those other months ahead of us. For this is the time we look ahead to the future and think about newness. What’s up ahead for us?
In God after Darwin, John Haught suggests that God creates not from the past, but from the future. From a transcendent future, God draws the whole universe toward a fulfillment that we call the Kingdom of God. So God is not so much “up above” in heaven as God is as “up ahead.”
I like this image. I imagine a loving and patient God waiting to greet me when I arrive home—up ahead. After a life’s journey I trudge up the front walk, and as I approach the front door, God meets me, takes me in, and welcomes me home—and brings me to the room that Jesus has prepared for me.
Or maybe we will have spent life running around the bases, full speed ahead. As we approach Heavenly Home plate hot, dirty, and sweaty, God is clapping and waving us home while we shout exultantly, “WOW! WHAT A RIDE!”
Or maybe we will return home as prodigal, starving, but repentant children, hardly daring to hope for anything. But God runs out to us crying with joy, and readies not just a hot meal but a heavenly banquet.
The Bible is full of promises of newness—a new creation, a new heaven and new earth, a God who makes “all things new.” In God, every day is the dawn of a new morning, every moment like a new year when the whole cosmos turns to see the face of God in all things. For God is above all the God of our ultimate dreams, always meeting us “up ahead.”
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation!