Tonight we will close the final chapter on 2013. We’ll sing “Auld Lang Syne” and pray for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2014 as we watch the ball drop from Times Square or participate in a number of various community celebrations across the nation. Personally, I always wanted to see the acorn fall when I lived near Raleigh, N.C., but never got around to it.
For now, we think back upon 2013 and ponder about what the nature of these past 365 days. When I reflect on 2013, I cannot help to think that it was a hard year to put into words. This past year has equal parts to feel good about, but also equal parts to feel disheartened about.
It was a year we saw the first pope resign in more than 600 years. Pope Benedict XVI’s decision was one to be admired, because it came as a recognition of the importance of knowing one’s self and abilities for service. It set the stage for the election of Pope Francis, who I believe is a leader who will challenge the entire church – Protestant and Catholic – to serve the “least of these” as Christ commands us.
It was also a year that we saw tragedy and violence. The Boston Marathon was hindered by a bombing that killed three people and injured hundreds others. We saw more mass shootings across the nation. We saw violence continue in places across the Middle East and Russia.
It was a year in which we rejoiced when those who lost had been found, especially three women near Cleveland who had been kidnapped for years. We celebrated their freedom and were shocked to hear of the gruesome stories of their captivity.
It was a year, as well, that we remembered those who have found for human rights. We said goodbye, this year, to Nelson Mandela who serves as an example of redemption, perseverance, and reconciliation.
It was a year where we could see places of hope and moments of frustrations in all corners of society.
I’m not sure we will look back and consider 2013 a great year. At the same time, I’m not sure we will look back on 2013 as an entirely bad year, either. It was a year where we could find positives in the midst of frustrations.
Perhaps that is the message for us all as we head into 2014: To find the good in the midst of the bad.
May 2014 be a year of hope, peace, joy, and love for us all!