Although last year may have felt earth-shattering for some of us, the earth remains intact and continues on its orbital journey around the sun. With earth’s turning, a new year has arrived full of potential joys and sorrows, as well as innumerable mysteries.
The mystery that lies ahead reminds me of a verse from 1 Corinthians 13:12 (King James Version, or KJV) that is commonly used to express what we don’t know: “for now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” This translation implies that what we see or know comes to us through a mist, as if we were looking through a cloudy window.
But a more accurate translation of the apostle writer’s intent is conveyed in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face…” The KJV use of the word ‘glass’ actually means any object that reflects an image, but is not the image itself, such as in a mirror or ‘looking glass’. The original author’s word choice refers to an ancient Jewish understanding that God’s prophecies are never fully understood, they are only reflections of God’s words, rather than the actual words or meaning. The author, most likely the apostle Paul, indicates in this verse that only God knows anything fully.
As we think about what the future may hold for us – what the political pundits may prophecy for a new presidential administration, what the climate change deniers or advocates may prophecy for our environment, or what the social scientists may prophecy for racial, religious, or ethnic relations, we only know or predict in part.
But because we can’t know the future and because we UUs generally don’t feel our fate is already written, we choose to act in ways that encourage the future we wish to see, we make a commitment to the future we hope for.
During the month of January we’ll explore different types of commitments we make in our lives—emotional, political, relational, spiritual, and more. We’ll reflect on where these commitments will take us and what that future might be.
The writer of 1 Corinthians ends this part of his letter by saying, “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” This verse (1 Cor. 12:13) expresses that no matter what comes, faith, hope, and love will always be with us. If we, the members and friends of UUFA, continue to act upon and have faith in our principles, hope for a better world, and a love that guides us in all we do, then the future that unfolds can only be better that what we know today. I depend upon faith, hope and love abiding. May it be yours, mine and ours this new year.