The end of another year is upon us. Like every other year, 2017 was the theater of God’s presence as well as the best and worst of humanity.

This year we saw many women from all walks of life rise up against sexual harassment at the workplace. We saw how platitudes of a post-racial America were just that—platitudes. We saw political divisions within our borders and the potential for nuclear war with North Korea. We were both inspired and moved to tears as we saw the video of a young man from Tennessee named Keaton Jones denounce bullying at his school. We saw the destruction left behind by nature’s power in Sierra Leone, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Texas, California, Mexico, Bangladesh, Colombia and elsewhere around the globe.

Nevertheless, God’s mercy was present in every single event of human history in 2017. In the midst of every tear or fearful heart, God is there, loving us unconditionally—even when we feel abandoned.

Paul expresses this essential hope of the Christian faith in Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Every year brings both despair and joy. Against the despair that we can experience at any time in our life, we are encouraged by the good news of Jesus Christ, the one who at the appointed time of God (kairos) gives us hope.

God in his mercy forgives our false ideology of believing that we are the supreme beings on this planet who can save ourselves.

Take heart: Only God is able to save this world. It was through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the ultimate kairos moment, that God reconciled our world to the divine by forgiving our evil and swallowing up death and the forces that deny us and every creature life abundant.

As the community of the risen Christ—the one who was, who is and who is to come—we can look at every year that passes as a sign that God’s mercy is never-ending. Whether we feel defeated or triumphant, God is with us. Every moment of our lives is surrounded with the kairos of God’s mercy.

Buoyed by this knowledge, we are freed in Christ to experience this new year that approaches with a heart full of hope. If we live, we live with the Lord; if we die, we die with the Lord. So, then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Here’s to a hope-full 2018!

Nelson H. Rabell-González
Rabell-González is pastor of Apostles' Lutheran Church in Turnersville, N.J. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is a graduate of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (2002). Rabell-González is married to Dr. Fabiola Ramos. They have two children: Hiram Rabell-Ramos (18) and Sofía Rabell-Ramos (16). Their dog's name is Lucas.

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