This has been the longest New Year’s Eve of my life. No, I do not mean that figuratively. I mean it quite literally. I left Great Falls, Montana at 7:30 am (MST), and crossed three time zones to arrive on Kauai island. 8 hours of travel across 2,792 miles through 3 time zones brought myself, my sister, my mother, and stepfather to this rugged beauty of an island for an adventure.
An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered – G.K. Chesterton
Upon landing in Lihue, we promptly collected a bag from the baggage area, and promptly made our way to rent a car. While waiting quite some time for the car to be turned over to us, I made use of the time by studying a map of Kauai. Anyone studying a map of Kauai for the first time will notice two things. First, much of the inner land of the island is uninhabited. Only around the coast are their towns connected by one highway that does not quite encircle the island. Second, most of the town names were foreign yet familiar. As I travel, I want to know more about the culture here, and learning about the language is a rich way to learn about culture so I intend to do so. Fun Fact: Hawaiian is similar to Hebrew in that it places the verb prior to the subject in its syntax.
Our first stop after picking up the rental car was to Walmart of all places. Having to go there first thing after landing crushed my soul a little but it was on the way to where we are staying. Eventually I got over it by seeing it as equipping us to invest the rest of our time exploring the island. A seemingly long 45 minute drive around the island got us to our home for the week. I didn’t mind taking in the scenery of course.
We have 9 days here in Hawaii. At this point, I do not know what those 9 days hold. My family does vacations a little like Jazz improvisation. We have a good idea at what might happen, but we’ll be creating it as we go.
Perhaps then because it is New Year’s Eve, I am particularly attuned to the role of time on this trip. Indeed, of all the days of the year, time gets the most attention on New Year’s Eve. The very holiday marks the passing of years, a birthday of sorts for Earth. As well, people often celebrate it by counting down the hours, minutes, and even seconds to the midnight hour when one year becomes the next. Just like the year 2016, I know this trip will end but as I write this I am still within it, still observing the moments as they are given.
One of my friends in the Theology major at Moody wrote his senior paper on a philosophical theology of time. He argued in it that time is essentially opportunity and from this idea I penned an earlier post on this blog to mark the beginning of another trip to a similar locale. Time is opportunity, a gift given by God for our lives to inhabit a particular space with particular people, at a particular moment. How we experience time will in part depend on how we respond within it to the opportunities He presents. Each day and each moment is an opportunity to pick up our cross and follow Jesus as servants of those around us. This is why each morning when I first stand up out of bed, I whisper to myself, “I am a servant.”
Right now, I want to soak in every moment of this time to rest with my family, to soak in the preeminent beauty of this creative work of a holy immanent Creator, and to render a vacation as worship in serving my family as my first neighbors that their time here may be well spent as well. I can already anticipate not wanting it to end, but it will.
This desire points me back to the church calendar of which this day is the 7th day of Christmas. The Incarnation, wonder of wonders, had a beginning and an end. But what sets apart the Incarnation from my vacation is that from Jesus’ incarnate’ “beginning” to his gruesome “end” there is now the new beginning of an enduring reality with no end. The resurrection for the Christ follower relativizes all endings. For if death, the most final ending known to man, is defeated then truly the eternal has broken into finite human history to be with us, without end.
This is the audacious hope of the Christian faith, the hope that puts all other hopes to shame. It is the hope that no Good will ever truly end but will be purified, refashioned, clothed and remade to serve the glory of the living God in a world without end.
There is a manger in Bethlehem and a cross in Jerusalem that still testify to the beginning of all new beginnings and the end of all ends.
If you are not a Christian but are willing to at least listen to this testimony and want to read through one of Gospels with me, please let me know. I’d love to do it with you in the new year.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Happy New Year.