Jesus, Samuel and the start of a new year.

I’m not sure how 2018 was for you, but many people I know and love would say that the year has not been kind to them.

There have been deaths and accidents and illnesses. People have moved, jobs have changed, relationships have changed.

There are others who have had kind years. New babies, new relationships, new jobs. Things that might have gone bad haven’t. Things that could have turned one way have turned the other.

In other words, in general, 2018 was another year. And soon, we will forget most of the details of the year as we move into the next year.

ChoicesLast Sunday morning, we read about two young men mentioned extensively in the Bible. But for Jesus and for Samuel, there were many years we don’t know about. There are many details that we wish we knew. In particular, we wish we knew about their younger years. In the book of 1 Samuel, we know one scene in Samuel’s early life, probably from when he was in his early teens. In the four Gospels about Jesus, we have one scene between his toddler time and his early 30’s when he speaks. And that is when he was 12. That’s it. So many details and events and struggles. The awful year of 1058 BCE, for example. How did Samuel deal with the shortages? And 22 CE. How did Jesus respond to the political uproar?

We have no idea. In fact, I have no idea what happened in either of those years. What we DO know about, however, is what happened in their character, in their reputation.

They continued to grow in stature and in wisdom (in the case of Jesus) and favor with God and in favor with people.

More than any particular detail or event in their lives, what is significant is the trajectory of their lives, the direction, the culmination of thousands of days, of millions of choices and decisions.

As we stand at this turning point between one year and the next, I’m curious for you and for me. What would we like people to be able to say about us next year? Will anyone notice how we have matured?