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By now you are probably fed up with people’s end-of-year lists of the worst and best of for 2018. You probably have had your fill of “New Year’s resolutions” wherein the “resolution” refers to what I resolve to do (or most prominently not do) in the coming year.
But in looking back over my 2018 columns, I thought perhaps I left a few things hanging and unresolved. So, I thought I would start off 2019 with a different kind of resolution list, by cleaning up a little of 2018’s hanging threads: a couple parts specificity, a couple parts grand philosophizing.
Sort of working backward, a few people have asked me how my Christmas plan worked out with my wife. First of all, she was indeed surprised by all the gifts that were literally right before her eyes (yes, she really liked her ring — it turned out to even be the right size!) and nothing spoiled the big reveal on Christmas morning for her to read the column with instructions from the weekend before!
However, note to future self (and anyone thinking my multi-layered, long-con, Christmas gift plan was with no negatives): now the bar is so high, I’ll have to start laying the groundwork for something similar probably a year in advance! Maybe next year I’ll just get her a matching necklace or a waffle iron.
Another year-end drama that got kind of left hanging was the story about the guy trying to put a junkyard in my backyard. The effort started two weeks before the Goldsboro City Council meeting scheduled to vote on it on my birthday. In that time, several of us concerned citizens combined forces and were able to get about 300 signatures total in an opposition petition and have more than 50 bodies present at the meeting where I and several others made speeches in opposition.
There were several delays and meetings that postponed a final resolution until, at a Dec. 17 meeting, the developer rescinded his request to put the junkyard in our area. However, as well as stemming the immediate threat, the event had the side effect of creating a neighborhood group and several friendships all of which. are now on the lookout not only in a reactionary way, but in a proactive way. Look out, 2019!
Then, of all my various movie review-type ruminations, I probably left the fallout of “Avengers: Infinity War” most hanging. Granted, the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” is basically the sequel, so it is meant to be hanging. And it is no secret that Captain Marvel is the setup movie for that one, readying us for the apparent savior hero, the most powerful of the cinematic Marvel heroes we will see: Captain Marvel, who just also happens to be a female hero.
This is perhaps not really a loose end so much as a missed opportunity to once again point out the shift away from very biased norms of the past. No matter how much the old forces might want to fight against it, Paul’s words are coming to pass more and more: neither male nor female, all are one!
Which brings me to the biggest philosophical loose thread from last year: the truth. To be specific, the apparent question by leaders and institutions about what has been the bedrock of commonality of our society and indeed faith itself: the understanding that there is a truth!
Faith-wise, Jesus himself declares that he is the Truth, and the Christian faith says that this point is indisputable. Science and law use facts to find the truth to help us as a people. For anyone to throw the very concept of truth under the bus has just been a concept that has pestered me as a theologian, as an amateur scientist and as a citizen. Though it is still hanging, I think more people hold to truth than the wacked-out leaders might imagine. Let’s hope so!
And lastly is the hanging thread that I have been dealing with literally the whole calendar year: the death of my mother.
As it turns out, her funeral was literally one year ago from the time I am writing this column. In the course of the past year, I have settled her estate and brought memorials forth in her name. And with the content of my column last week, I have lived through a year of milestones without her, yet remembering who it was who brought me to be who I am.
No more so was I reminded of that than when singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve and recalling my mother’s tender voice teaching my brother and me those same words as little children so that we would know words of faith to hold fast to that concept of Truth touching the heart of the world.
Tomorrow is the day of Epiphany, when famously the wise men made it to see Jesus by following a star and had an epiphany of their own as to who was the true ruler of the world. My hope as I wrap up this past year is that we all can put the last year behind us and do the same as those wise men for our upcoming 2019.
May this New Year be filled with the light of the Truth that ties up all our loose ends with light, life and love!
Pastor Zach Harris has been an ordained minister for 27 years and currently serves Ascension Lutheran Church in Wilson. His column, “Through a Lutheran Lens: A Pastor’s Perspective,” appears weekly in The Wilson Times. Previous columns are available at WilsonTimes.com.