OUT WITH THE OLD

We have often heard the phrase “out with the old, in with the new” and with December 31 rapidly approaching, it seems an appropriate statement — out with 2018 and in with 2019.

We recall the end of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life when the whole town rescues Jimmy Stewart from debtor’s prison on Christmas Eve.  As they arrive to bring needed funds, they sing “Auld Lang Syne”. 

Every New Year’s Eve, when the clock counts down the seconds to the beginning of the new year, we sing, or hear the singing of, “Auld Lang Syne”.  Specifically, we hear it played and sung when we watch the ball drop at Times Square in New York at the exact moment when the new year begins in the Eastern Time Zone.  Across the globe, this song frequently has its first notes sung at the end of one year and its last note sung in the first moments of the next year. 

But, this year, I wondered what, exactly, we were singing when we spouted those words from our lips.

Apparently, I am not the only one who has questioned this tradition.  One article I read said that historians call this the “song that nobody knows” but that we all try to sing on an annual basis!   But, when you sing “for auld lang syne,” what are you saying?

The song was known as early as 1588 when it was part of the oral tradition of getting drunk and singing.   In 1788, the Scottish poet Robert Burns said that “Auld Lang Syne” was an old song dictated to him by an old man so that he could put the word down on paper.  Burns, therefore, did not write the poem but he put it together from what the old man told him. 

After getting new life from Burns, “Auld Lang Syne” spread out into the world of pop culture, particularly in his homeland of Scotland. Meant to bring up feelings of nostalgia and a love of old relationships and times gone by, the song is still sung right before the clock hits midnight in Scotland and in many places across the world.

But, really… what do those old-timey English words translate to?

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, / And never brought to mind? / Should old acquaintance be forgot, / And auld lang syne.”

In the most literal sense, auld lang syne can be roughly translated to “old long since.”  Since those words don’t form a real phrase in modern English, they really mean “long, long ago,” “a long time ago,” or “days gone by.” So, when you sing “auld lang syne, my dear” in the chorus, you’re essentially cheering the old days of the past.

The full text of the song presents a series of rhetorical questions, all amounting to the point that unless you are totally devoid of any emotion or memory, that is unless you are dead inside, you ought to be able to recognize the value of reconnecting with old friends and pondering old times.

This thought is very consistent with Scripture.  In the Bible we read much about remembering. 

God says that He will remember:

I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:15-16

“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34

God commands that we should remember certain things:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

Exodus 20:8

So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.”

Numbers 15:40

Jesus told us to remember Him and His words:

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.””

Luke 22:19

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 14:26

The angels told the disciples to remember after Jesus’ resurrection:

“He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

Luke 24:7

And we should remember the days of our past:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.”

Psalm 143:5

While the song “Auld Lang Syne” had its genesis in a drinking song, and while it is often sung now with alcohol flowing freely, for the Christian the song could remind us of the very words of David in Psalm 143.  Remember the days of old.  Think and meditate on what God has done.  Consider and ruminate on the work of His hands.  Let the new year be a springboard for your spirit to sing out praises to our Lord and Savior, to our Redeemer-King.    

So, out with the old and in with the new … But don’t forget the old times, the old friends, the old experiences.  Don’t forget the wondrous things God has done for you in the past and ponder on His love and mercy, His grace and goodness, His incredible salvation through Jesus Christ. 

Let your memories thrive so that your new memories will be ever so much more meaningful.

Father, I pray that we would take Auld Lang Syne and use that song speaking of days gone past to remind us of Your mighty works in, through and for us throughout our lives.  May we praise our Lord and Savior for His love and mercy in the past and in the new year as well.  May we be witnesses of Your love to others, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

EXCITEMENT AND CELEBRATION!

What excites you?  What causes a sense of celebration and joy for you?

 

A child at a birthday party anxious to see what the package holds?

Excitement
Excitement at a birthday party!

 

Watching fireworks at the park?

Fireworks 2
Fireworks after baseball game!

Going on a vacation?

Cruise ship at distance
Cruise ship at a distance.

Going outside?

Okay, that question is really related to our MinPin daughter, Snickers, who cannot stand at the door to go outside.  In her exuberance for getting outside, she, in all her 8 inches of height, will jump higher than the doorknob while she waits for us to open it.

 

 

What makes you glad?  What excites you?

 

Scripture tells us of a time when David exhibited extreme excitement and joy in 2 Samuel 6.  The cause of his excitement was that the ark was being returned to the City of David, and it had just arrived from the house of Obed-edom.   Scripture says that David “danced before the Lord with all his might” [ESV] or “with great enthusiasm”. [Amplified Bible]   When his wife, Michal, saw him dancing, she became angry because she thought his actions were undignified.  She confronted him with his conduct and David responded, reading from the Amplified Bible:

So David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord that I did this, who chose me above your father and all his house, to appoint me as ruler over Israel, the people of the Lord.  Therefore I will celebrate in pure enjoyment before the Lord.”

2 Samuel 6:21.

 

In the New Testament, Jesus talked of His joy:

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

John 15:11.

 

And then also we read what Paul says gives him joy:

I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

2 Corinthians 7:4.

This same verse is translated as follows in the Amplified Bible:

“Great is my confidence in you, great is my pride and boasting on your behalf.  I am filled to the brim with comfort; I am over flowing with joy in spite of all our trouble.”

Having joy in spite of the troubles that confronted him.  Wow!

 

The disciples, at the ascension of the Lord, watched Him go up into the clouds after He blessed them.  Then we read, in the Amplified Bible, at Luke 24:31-32:

And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy [fully understanding that He lives and that He is the Son of God], and they were continually in the temple blessing and praising God.

 

Worshipping with great joy.

  • That doesn’t sound like being the “Frozen Chosen” on Sunday Morning, sitting in the pew with dour faces, never smiling and singing through clenched jaws!

Rather that description sounds like:

  • people who are thankful to God, and to Him alone, for their salvation, who recognize how great the mercy was when the Holy Spirit touched their hearts through His grace alone!
  • people who put God at the center of worship and not their own feelings and opinions.
  • people who celebrate and praise God for His goodness through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
  • people who want to spend time with each other, who speak to and encourage one another!

 

So, I ask you, how do you worship the Lord and the Father Almighty?  With great joy or with a sense of obligation or dread?  Do you love meeting with other believers and fellowshipping with them because of your common bond in Christ, or do you spend the smallest amount of time possible at church because other “more pressing matters” are calling to you!

 

Worship is exciting because in it we are ushered into the throne room of God.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross, and the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating our hearts to the reality of our sin and to the blessing of His mercy.  While in our own strength and power we would be cast out from before His presence because of our abject sin and spiritual poverty, because we stand before God in the righteousness of Christ, we can call the Holy One, the Creator of all things and the Lover of our Soul, “Abba, Father”.

 

I pray that we would have a renewed appreciation of worship and fellowship in the life of the Christian Church.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35.

 

Worship and love – they go hand in hand.  Worship denotes the reverence of and for God, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. And, our devotion to the Lord should be evidenced in the love that we have for one another and for the world around us.  Indeed, worship and love of one another are means of grace given to us through the Holy Spirit … let us not ignore them!

 

This week, may we remember that the worship of our God is exciting and is a joyful experience.  Then, when we leave the worship service, may we continue in an attitude of love toward both our fellow believers as well as each person that the Lord puts in our path.  Love one another — surprise them by your love and then point them to Jesus.

 

Father, forgive me when I have approached worship with a sense of obligation rather than with excitement about being in your presence.  May your Holy Spirit touch my heart and may I come with reverence and awe at your majesty, power, omniscience, glory, and love.  May I be accepted before You as I stand covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, my Savior.  May I love You with my whole heart and may I worship You daily.

 

WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

Many years ago, my daughter bought me a Christmas gift that has continued giving delight for over 3 decades. She had heard me exclaim over various Christmas villages that I had seen in store windows, as I love looking that the buildings, the people, and the activities that they were doing in their snowy worlds.

She and my husband happened to be shopping when she saw a Christmas Village set. Once she laid eyes on it, my husband knew that we were going to have a Christmas village in our home. They bought the set and gave it to me as an early present that year, and it has been on display during the Christmas season ever since. We even call it “Lindaville”.

 

village - original set
The original Christmas Village set purchased by my daughter years ago.

Every year since that initial purchase, we have added new buildings, accessories, and scenery reflecting our interests. Here are some of the additions to Lindaville that we have incorporated into the village over the years.

Village church with musicians
Christmas village church with musicians outside serenading the people in the neighborhood.

 

Village house with picket fence
Christmas village house with picket gate.

 

village animal shelter
Christmas village animal shelter with their little friends being well treated.

 

Village Diner, dog park and playground
Playground and dog park with Tennessee Volunteer Diner close by.

 

Village sweet shoppe
Christmas village Sweet Shoppe with delivery man and truck.

 

On a quiet evening, I sit and stare at the village, imagining the people in their houses, the business people at work, the craftsmen delivering the goodies from the bakery, the volunteers taking care of the animals at the shelter. I love watching the children in the playground on the see-saw going up and down under the blinking lights on the playground trees.

 

I wonder what they are doing, thinking, planning, enjoying, fearing. And, when we are ready to turn the lights off for the night, I jokingly tell my husband that the parents of the children making snow angels should be contacted since the children ought to be in bed at that time of night!

But then, as we ourselves go to bed and turn off the house lights, I think about not just the ceramic village but of our real friends and family who are far away. What are they doing, thinking, planning, enjoying, fearing?

We often respond to the inquiry “How are you, today?” with a quick “Fine, thank you.” or “Okay.” or “Better than I deserve.” But we seldom take down the façade and let others see us as we really are – perhaps hurting physically, perhaps in pain because of harsh words spoken by someone we love, perhaps fearful over concerns about health, perhaps in fear of the mail in January when the bills for the presents purchased will arrive and we know the income will not be sufficient to pay them all. The list could go on and on and is as varied as there are people.

The Christmas season brings out smiles where there often are frowns. It brings out acts of generosity when penny-pinching is the norm at other times of the year. It provides occasions for us to don our holiday sweaters and our holiday ties, we put on the bright jewelry and party vests, and we polish up our smiles that hide our real hurts and concerns. But for many it is a very difficult, painful time.

The Good News, however, is that the Christmas season is a giant birthday party for the One born two thousand years ago, in a Bethlehem manger. This One is the Son of God and He does not need to ask “what are they doing?” He already knows exactly what we are doing, and He even knows why we are doing it! This One has come to show us the Way out of our crushing fear, our overwhelming struggle as we seek to run from our problems, our continual convicting awareness of our sin and guilt before God.

Indeed, this is the Christ whose birth was announced along with the admonition not to fear and to be at peace!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. … Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Luke 2:10 and 14.

This is the Christ who told His disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27.

This is the Christ who said, after His resurrection:

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

Luke 24:36.

This is the Christ of whom it was written:

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:12.

This is the Christ who has provided salvation to those who believe on His Name.

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Acts 16:30-31.

What is the best present to get at Christmas? It is the gift that has already been given … no strings attached … free to all who believe.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23.

The Babe who was born in that Bethlehem manger became our atoning sacrifice on the cross.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9.

This gift, when accepted, gives peace with God, fellowship with other Christians, a life with the Holy Spirit guiding and securing your steps as you are transformed into the image of our Savior.

What are we doing this Christmas season? I am confident that there are a bunch of activities that we have accomplished over the past several weeks. However, I pray that we have had as our priority the worship of the One who was born so long ago, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and may we have taken the time to be still before Him, casting our cares upon Him and giving Him our love and adoration.

Christmas day has come and gone for 2015. The ceramic people in the village are doing the same things they were doing ever since we put the village up. They are static and cannot change.

In contrast, I pray that God’s Gift that we celebrate at Christmas will energize us to worship Him, study His Word, praise Him, and witness to others of His love, mercy and grace.

So, what are you doing this Christmas season?

 

Father, may I honor and worship you throughout the year, not just at Christmas, and may I glorify your name in all that I say and do. Accept the gift of my heart and life, Lord, and may I live for you throughout my days, as you give me the grace and mercy to so live. I praise you and honor you, and I thank you for the saving grace extended to me and all those who call upon your name. In Jesus Holy and Wonderful Name, I pray.