The New Year Address: A New Take on an Old Speech
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
You wake up on New Year's morning, shuffle down to the kitchen, make a cup of coffee, flop yourself down on the couch, and turn on the television. For an hour or two you watch several people pontificate about 2020. They're rather boisterous and, quite frankly, boring and uninspiring. But you didn't turn on the television to see them; you turned it on because you heard that a famous church and cultural leader is planning to give his speech...something inspirational for the coming year...something to motivate the church to be all it is created by God to be.
After what seems like an eternity, the last introductory speaker concludes, and a tall gentleman stands up toward the back of the televised stage. He saunters up to the podium dressed in a lanky black suit, buttoned from waist to chest. He's wearing a funny bow tie, his hair is a bit disheveled, his beard is somewhat unkempt, and there's an anachronistic top hat perched on his head. At the podium, he reaches into the inside pocket of his coat, pulls out a small piece of paper, unfolds it, clears his throat, and succinctly delivers these words:
"Two score and twelve weeks ago our Father brought forth in this world, a new year, conceived in divine liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that His people--the church--are here to fulfill the commandments to serve and love God and others.
"Now we are engaged in a great cultural war, testing whether our people, or any people so conceived and so consecrated, can long endure. We are met on the great battle-field of that war and in the prospect of another year. We have come to this place, but it is not a final resting place—it is a place and time where we remember Christ who gave his life that other people might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
"But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—any place or time. The brave Man, Christ--once dead but now living--who struggled for us, has consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what He did here. It is for us the church, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which He who fought, died, and rose here has so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from this honored Christ we take increased devotion to that cause for which He gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that our Christ shall not have died and rose in vain—that our people, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that a church of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
He folds the piece of paper, places it back in his coat pocket, and returns to his seat. You've not taken a sip of coffee for a couple of minutes now. You are struck by the poignancy of what he said. What do you do now?
Happy New Year!