Nothing like welcoming the New Year with an explosion...

Nothing like welcoming the New Year with an explosion . . . or two or three . . . and I’m not thinking of the fireworks over the Times Square ball drop either!

I was out walking in the Michigan chill before sunrise early this week, mulling over the spate of non-stop headlines we’ve become accustomed to of late. And as I brooded over it all, two words came to mind. “Chronic”—because how else can you explain the incessant, seemingly interminable march of bad news that’s become our daily fare. And then alongside “chronic” popped the word “entropy”—a word scientists have tucked into the second law of thermodynamics to describe the gradual disintegration our universe experiences, slowly but surely degrading toward disorder. “Chronic entropy” then becomes the fitting description of life on the planet, incessantly marching toward disintegration, where in fact what is “new” (as in new year) becomes simply an accelerating degradation of the what is “old” (as in old year).

Not a very cheery notion for a brand new beginning, I’ll admit! Which is why along with the couplet “chronic entropy” we must add the couplet “blessed hope.” Because if I read the apocalyptic portions of Holy Scripture correctly (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 along with Daniel and Revelation), the chronic entropy that all of them describe is but the harbinger of the second advent of Christ and the eventual restoration of an entire cosmos previously destined for disintegration. That means that even our New Year headlines—Israel and the Hamas at war, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, North Korea, the still falling U.S. economy, the disintegrating global economy, the chronic entropy of nature/ecology, the moral entropy of the human race—are in themselves a quiet assurance that the “baddest” news  2009 can bring us is but the predicted harbinger of the greatest news of all—the return of our Creator-Savior. No wonder the Bible calls it the blessed hope!

And no wonder Jesus called our generation to such buoyant confidence: “‘So when all these things begin to happen, stand straight and look up, for your salvation is near!’” (Luke 21:28 NLT).