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.

TRAVEL IN GOD’S HANDS

We have just returned from a trip that covered over 6,000 miles, through lands that were densely populated and through lands where there was no person or building for hundreds of miles at a time.  We experienced mountains followed by corn fields which were followed by huge ranch areas which had brush, cacti and very few trees.  We were in the desert and going through Monarch Pass which registers over 11,000 feet above sea level.   It was an incredible feeling to be standing at the Continental Divide, ears popping all the while!  

DSC_1082

The variety of the landscape is impossible to describe as we traversed from Tennessee to South Dakota, then to Wyoming, on to Idaho, then to Utah, and Colorado, Kansas and Missouri, ultimately returning to home in East Tennessee.

The trip and the thousands of digital pictures will be subject of many future blog posts, I suspect.  Suffice it to say today that our overwhelming experience was encountering our marvelous God everywhere we looked.  Saint John wrote in the Book of Revelation:

“”Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.””

Revelation 4:11 

This is the song that the twenty-four elders sing to our God, and we echoed that song in our hearts as we saw dramatic scenery that revealed His creative power like we have seldom seen.  Some examples are the Red Canyon outside Richfield, Utah.

DSC_0201

In Indiana we saw the Wabash and Mississinewa Rivers and spent time finding and admiring the Seven Pillars on the river.

DSC_0087

And in Wyoming we saw the Grand Tetons looming over the highway, glorious with their snow covered peaks even in the heat of July.

IMG_20180626_1425561_rewind

DSC_0081

And in Yellowstone, the geyser basins were the source of incredible beauty.   The orange surrounding the cobalt blue boiling water is bacteria which thrives in this environment. Watch where you walk, though … the water in these “ponds” is way hotter than the boiling point of water and the ground is very thin.  Boardwalks are the only safe way to experience these vents in the earth’s crust.

As spectacular as all this is, God was not only seen in the grand and glorious scenery splayed out before us.  His providential Hand was experienced first-hand when we were filling the gas tank in the RV in a very small Utah town.  A long-distance truck driver who had been following us for some distance came up to us and said one of the rear coach tires was very low, recommending that we add air as soon as possible.  

We thanked him for his kindness and, when the tank was full, we went to the back of the station where there was a three-bay mechanic’s shop.  The owner came out and looked at the tires, noting that the tread on one was split and four of them were long past their replacement date.  (This clearly was something the mechanic in Tennessee should have told us about, but that’s a different story.)

Needless to say, we replaced four of the six tires on the RV and we were on our way, praising our Lord that He was watching out for us, even when we didn’t know we were in danger.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”

Psalm 143:10 

We have always known God cares for us and is guiding us with His Hand.  But when you can see His Hand working on your behalf, it is overwhelming.  The God who created all this beauty cares about us so much that His immutable love is watching each moment, so that His purpose will be fulfilled in our world and in each of our lives.

Keep your eyes open and see His Hand before you.  Read His Word and let His Spirit speak to your heart and mind.  Bask in the love that our Lord Jesus has for you … He gave His life as a ransom for you.  Praise Him all the day long.

Father, I thank You for the marvelous creation of Your Son.  I thank You that You sustain all things with the power of Your Word, and yet You even know the details of my life as it unfolds before me.  Forgive me when I forget the power of Your Word and when I act as though I am in control.  Take my life, Lord, and make it what You want it to be and may the words of  Scripture bring forth fruit for Your Kingdom.