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A Tale Of Two Cities

In his opening of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens has perhaps given
the world one of the greatest precursory statements of all time. "It was
the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it
was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of
incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it
was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." No doubt these
famous words mark some of the best-known lines of literature, words that
skillfully reflect the novel's central tension between opposing pairs.

In this season of the new year we, too, are inclined to reflect, to look
back and look forward with thoughts and words that help us sift through
the tale unfolding before us. Significant dates and holidays, birthdays
and anniversaries, naturally lend themselves to times of reflection, the
new year being perhaps the most confronting date calling us to reflect
(and certainly the best marketed). That we have before us the month that
marks another beginning of another year is unavoidable, even if merely
seen as time to buy a new calendar or join another health club.

Armed with resolutions and lofty goals, and perhaps a self-help book or
two, we stare into the 364 days ahead of us with hope and expectation,
sometimes with fear, sometimes with determination, sometimes with
excitement. And we look at the days behind us with a careful eye for
what is past, at times with nostalgia for all that has gone by, at times with
heaviness for that which we longed to see turn out differently, but
hopefully gleaning wisdom to carry into days to come. What were the
year's successes and failures? What will I accomplish this year? Where
have I been? How far have I come along?

But the new year is also a time to ask perhaps with a greater sense of
existential angst, "Where am I going?" And, "From whence did I come?"
the pages of one major newspaper on New Year's Day were articles
several up and coming self-improvement, self-discovery
books for the new
year. In between advice for learning to embrace
our lives as art, and
tips for rehabilitating your sense of style, the
author herself noted the
inconsistency of the well-marketed, self-
help world of reflecting. "If
all these books are out there," she
asked, the question remains, "why
aren't we well?"

Let us not miss this occasion for reflection. But let us also not miss
the certain reality that amidst our many answers to the questions
before us this new year, God's presence was and is always with us.

As the beloved hymnist Frances Havergal composed this hymn
as a New Year's greeting card, may it also be our greeting for
the year ahead of us.

Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
In working or in waiting, another year with Thee.
Another year of progress, another year of praise,
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days.
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting, of quiet, happy rest.
Another year of service, of witness for Thy love,
Another year of training for holier work above.
Another year is dawning, dear Father, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven, another year for Thee.

Looking back and looking forward, may yours be a new year lived in the
presence of God and the fellowship of Christ.
Jill Carattini


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* * * Four important things to KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

God loves you so much that He died for you!!!

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