Letter from the Editor: Our Days Are Numbered

New Year’s has always stirred up within me a desire to assess what’s past and dream of what’s next. It’s a ritual, a rite of passage. It’s a nod to the 365 days that have vanished. It’s an acknowledgement that days are precious gifts and perhaps I will receive another batch in the year to come. (And even an extra one for 2016.)

Is this what New Year’s should be about? Should we be concerned with setting goals and living intentionally? Perhaps instead, our aim should be singular in focus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33, ESV).

At the New Year, time’s passing is hard to escape. It reminds us that our days are numbered.

Instead of an either/or approach, I see it as both/and. As redeemed creatures, we have been freed from sin’s domain to build God’s kingdom and magnify our Redeemer through everything we are, everything we do. As created creatures, we have been made to magnify our Creator in unique ways and places so as to fill the whole earth with His glory. As was the case in Eden, there is much more freedom than restriction. Living for God’s glory in 2016 may or may not include specific goals. Grace will be necessary no matter what.

The features in this issue of Christ and Pop Culture Magazine offer perspectives on the New Year and ways to embrace all that’s ahead. First up is Erin Wyble Newcomb’s “The Never-ending Redemption Run,” which speaks to the goals and pursuits that are often sparked by the turn of the calendar:

“I think about that when I’m running now, not training for anything but joy. January comes from the Roman god Janus, the two-faced figure who looks both ways. Only God knows my future, whatever dreams I may invest myself in, but I feel compelled to look back this year too.

There is part of me that will never be satisfied with my running times (or anything else I do, for that matter). And there is part of me that knows someday, if not today, my fastest times will be behind me. Forever. I’ve been a runner longer than I’ve been a Christian, and as much as I can say that the first led me to the second, the former things will pass away. In spite of my perpetual quest for motion, a personal and all-too human ambition for progress, God tells me to be still to know Him.”

Goals or not, being still and knowing God is the worthiest of pursuits. Another worthy pursuit, according to Leah Rabe, is television watching. In “Sacred Time in the Netflix Era,” Rabe explains:

“Television and church tradition are similar when it comes to their ability to create sacred time, odd as the concept may sound. Think of the early days of television, when shows would air at specific, set times, and people would rearrange their schedules in order to watch. These set times provided a way to rest and relax, giving people something to look forward to during the workweek. TV became a way of marking time and a part of the rhythm of life.”

It’s a rare mind that sees the connection between viewing television shows and the liturgical calendar! I appreciate Rabe’s acknowledgement that time recognized turns sacred, memorable. And that leads us to “The Eternal Return” by C. Daniel Motley, which explores how we think about the passing of time:

“Philosophers and thinkers have postulated various theories of time and history—how time functions, why events tend to repeat themselves, and how we can break the vicious cycles that societies find themselves in. Since the rise of Christianity, theorists have promoted the ‘linear’ theory of time—events are moving forward in history toward an end, a telos, which is the consummation of all things at the return of Jesus Christ. However, some Enlightenment and modernist philosophers, rejecting Christianity in favor of opposing worldviews, have offered a convincing alternative that involves some form of a ‘circular’ theory of time, in which events come back around again in a similar or even the same form in the future.”

At the New Year, time’s passing is hard to escape. It reminds us that our days are numbered. But the hope that’s ours in Jesus means that time doesn’t have final say. One day, God will call us home. Our plans will be left undone; our goals will be abandoned. Everything will change when we leave earthly time and enter God’s domain and all strivings will cease. Until then, make some plans. Or not. But do live in God’s abundant grace.

—Erin Straza

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.

In This Issue