Post-Christmas blues are a reality every year, but I imagine that they could be especially high this year. So many people are talking about the excitement of 2020 ending, and longing for the newness of a fresh start on the calendar. While I understand the longing and the hoping and the hunger for a new beginning, I am concerned we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. I would love for a whole lot of things to change when the calendar turns, but the pandemic is not paying attention to the calendar. On January 1st we will still be in a pandemic and many of the struggles from 2020 will still be with us. We need a better new beginning. We need a better dawn, a better sunrise.
I love both sunrises and sunsets and have snapped lots of pictures of both. Kaye pokes fun of me when we look at vacation photos because of the disproportionate number of sunrise and sunset photos in comparison to the whole trip we enjoyed. I am not the only one. There is a deep appreciation within us for sunsets and sunrises. They are both beautiful, but they communicate different things. A sunset is the peaceful ending of a day. And a sunrise is the new hope, that this day can be better, that this day is in front of us and not yet lived.
Dawn signals a new beginning. Dusk signals an ending. There are nearly 500,000 people in the U.S. named Dawn and only 88 people in the U.S. named Dusk. If you are one of the 88 people named Dusk and happen to be reading this, I am sure your parents loved you. Why are there so many more people named Dawn than Dusk? Clearly there is something in us that is always longing for a new day.
In the Christmas story, we see Zechariah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah, and he describes Jesus as the dawn from on high.
Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the dawn from on high will visit us
to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Jesus is our dawn from on high. He gives us the new beginning that we need.
We have a better new beginning. Jesus has given us a new identity. He has made us a new creation. He gives us new mercies every day. Whenever we need a fresh start, He is our dawn. Whenever we are struggling with pain and frustration, He offers Himself as our dawn.
Jesus is our dawn from on high. He changes our perspective on everything.
On overwhelming days in 2020 I have gone for walks early in the morning as the sun is rising. The sun rising does not cause my problems to disappear but the newness of the morning can give me a new perspective on my struggles. About the sunrise and our Christian faith, CS Lewis wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
If we look to 2021 as our ultimate dawn, we will find ourselves discouraged and disappointed. Instead, we can look to Jesus as our dawn in the midst of the struggles and pain that will remain when the calendar turns.