Will We Seize the New Year’s Opportunities?

16203126006_9cb707371a_mAt the stroke of midnight, December 31, 2015, the famed six-ton ball slid down the pole from high above Times Square, New York City. The skies then lit up with flashes of dazzling fireworks, while the wall-to-wall audience below, dressed in all sorts of interesting costumes, cheered wildly. Levity filled the air.

Interviewers circulated with mikes at the ready. Talented musicians mounted stages here and there and filled the air with song. Kisses and hugs were exchanged freely. Meanwhile, around the world a billion people watched all this through the wonder of television.

What was it all about? Why the throngs? No great name was being celebrated – like Alexander the Great or Charlemagne. No historic day was being remembered – like D-Day or the day the Iron Curtain fell.

It was observed as the precise moment separating a spent year from a new one. It was the observance of the passing of time itself.

When the ball would come to rest, the year 2015 would be forever spent. It could be remembered, but never re-lived. A new year with all its hopes and fears would begin. It, too, in about 365 days would pass forever. That’s how mankind experiences time.

On this New Year’s Eve people in lesser numbers went to church. My nephew, David, told me he and his family would go Saturday night and again Sunday morning. It was a family tradition and he anticipated it eagerly. Think about it – honoring God in worship for the gift of time.

Those across the land who went to church were celebrating the same reality as the celebrants in Times Square. The worshipers, however, would perhaps spend moments thinking of the year now closing and giving thanks for the Lord’s mercies. They also would ponder what they would like to do differently or better in the New Year and ask for God’s grace. Most of all, they would give thanks for the Savior.

But they would think especially of time itself as a gift from God. We all do not have the same amount of money, talent, or opportunities. But we all have the same number of hours in a day – 24 – and days in a week – seven!

The Greek of the New Testament has a word for the measuring of time. It is chronos and the name registers with us because almost all of us have chronometers on our wrists. We look at them scores of times a day because these instruments keeps us alert to the flow of time in our busy world.

But the Greek language has another word for time and that Is kairos. This word does not so much mark the flow of time as the significance of particular moments or occasions in time. Call them opportunities.

About a special situation we might say, for example, “The time is ripe” meaning circumstances had fallen into place that should prompt us to act at this special moment.

Using this very word, Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians to “Make the most of every opportunity (kairon) because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)

Christians should need no six-ton steel ball gliding silently from above, and no swirling, cheering masses rending the air, to alert us to kairos in this new year. We will watch for these moments. And whether they come in the form of great break-throughs in our circumstances or unexpected disappointments we will treat them as providences and pray for grace and wisdom to act.

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Photo credit: Kohei Kanno (via flickr.com)

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2 thoughts on “Will We Seize the New Year’s Opportunities?

  1. When I think of the dawn of a new year, I may indeed look back on past happenings. But I look mostly ahead, praying for God’s guidance. Some of that purpose may come from a frequent part of family devotions for dad would pray, “Lord, this is an untried day that lies before us. Watch over us.”

  2. I too like to go to church on New Years Day,for the first Lord’s Supper of the year.It’s a great start to the year.

    In Anglican churches ,perhaps in all Christian churches, the 1st of January is the Feast of the Naming of Christ.It used to called the Feast of the Circumcision ,reminding us Jesus was Jewish ,like his mother.Circumcision happens at the start of a Jewish boys life.As gentiles ,we seek a circumcised heart.

    A new year is a new start and offers a chance to make changes,to be more like the person God wants us to be.It’s a good day to pray to God for help to become a better Christian,walking the Christian walk more in step with God’s plan for us.

    What a good point that we are all gifted the same number of hours in a day and days in a week,to make good use of.From that positive perspective we all have equal oppurtunities. It’s a good way of looking at our gift of life.
    Kairos , with it’s special moments to be seized with gratitude and made the most of,is a truly valuable gift.As Paul guides us,every kairon is a precious opportunity to grasp.

    What great New Years advice to be alert to the appearance of our next kairon.May the Lord give each of us the perception and wisdom to recognize and act on the next moment of good opportunity to come our way.

    I was honoured to be just asked to compose the prayers of intercession in my church, Coventry Cathedral , England, at next Sunday morning’s worship ,leading them them from the microphone.I saw this at once as a wonderful opportunity.

    I believe the gospel reading at our church next Sunday will be the marriage at Cana.So as well as writing a prayer for forthcoming marriages and newlyweds I have written a prayer for new beginnings,new projects ,new missions new friendships and new starts.This because the wedding at Cana is at the beginning of our Saviours mission,as well as a conjugal start for bridegroom and groom.

    Last Sunday we remembered Jesus’ baptism by John the Immerser,when Triune God appeared in HIs 3 persons,together.A wonderful sign in the season of Epiphany.

    After His baptism Jesus went into the wilderness and staunchly resisted the devil’s 3 temptations – the stones into bread, then at the Temple and on the mountain top.

    At this stage in our Christian year,Jesus has gathered His disciples. Now with the wedding at Cana He is out in the world and His mission in the world is begun .A great new start , perhaps it could be called a kairon. An exciting opportunity,to be taken with both hands.

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