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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dan Peeler
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families

“The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” 1 Peter 4.7-9

A Word of Hope

Today, as you might have heard, is New Year’s Eve; a time when we look forward to a fresh start for a hopeful future, a day to reflect on the end of yet another twelve months of our lives and a good time to remember the words if 1 Peter. The writer of the letter we call 1 Peter was a very realistic individual. Written near the end of the first century either by the Apostle Peter or, more likely, by one of his followers, the brief note was sent from Rome to various church leaders in Asia Minor in order to instruct and encourage them in the last days. But it’s almost 2,000 years later and the world still hasn’t ended. What happened?

I believe the writer was realistic because he or she could look around and clearly see the world they had always known swiftly coming to a close. The glorious temple of Jerusalem was little more than a pile of broken stones with a familiar worship system buried under it. Followers of the new Christian cult of Judaism had scattered all around the Mediterranean and were in jeopardy from all sides, hated by former friends and new enemies alike. Their world was literally ending.

There are interpreters today who will tell you that Peter was actually referring to the “real” end times that our own generation will face. In a way, they’re right. In my own life, I have witnessed the end of all things several times; new technologies becoming old, old faith systems evolving into new ones, expanded views of what “loving my neighbor” really implies. 2013 saw a lot of changes in our church as well; the end of an era for some, the beginning of new adventures for all of us.

The real world view outlined in 1 Peter addresses the multitude of endings and beginnings we have always faced and always will. It’s up to us to make it a Happy New Year!

May every ending in our lives signal a new beginning in our commitments to prayer, love for others, hospitality, and good use of our gifts in service through the grace of God.

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