Several weeks ago we closed out 2010. We took the time to come together and celebrate the passing of an old year and the birth of a new year. But it wasn’t just us. It wasn’t just members of this church. Around the world, millions of people put away the old year ( some people put away more than just a year while celebrating; if you catch my drift). In this country we have a tradition. One among many, but it is a tradition nonetheless. At the stroke of midnight most people after they shout happy new years will begin to sing the song-auld lang syne. All my life I’ve heard this song, but I never really paid attention to its meaning. I never really looked into understanding it. I never really looked into what all the words were. I found an article online that I would like to share with you about this very song.
In 1788, a Scotsman named Robert Burns wrote a poem and entitled it “Auld Lang Syne.” The poem title can be translated in English as 'old long since,' or more idiomatically, 'long, long ago' or 'days gone by.' Similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570-1638), Allan Ramsay (1686-1757), and James Watson (1711) used the term “Auld Lang Syne.” Predating Robert Burns, Matthew Fitt used the term “In the days of auld lang syne,” equivalent to “Once upon a time” when retelling fairy tales in the Scot language.
Traditionally, especially on New Years' Eve, at the stroke of midnight, the memorable strands of Auld Lang Syne can be heard at any number of social gatherings. The song is also used to signify endings at graduations, funerals, and farewell or endings to other occasions. There is some doubt whether the melody heard today is the one Robert Burns had in mind, originally. However, the same musical score is used in Scotland and throughout the entire world.
If “auld” means “old,” is the verse saying that old acquaintances should be forgotten and put out of mind? Actually, although the song begins with a question, as to whether old times should be forgotten; the song is generally interpreted as a call to remember old and long standing friendships.
It is common practice for everyone to join hands with the person next to them to form a circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse, everyone crosses their arms across their breast, so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbor on the left. When the melody ends, while still holding hands, everyone moves to the middle of the floor. Once the circle is re-established, everyone turns under the arms to end up facing outwards with hands still joined.
In the English speaking world, Auld Lang Syne is used as follows:
In Scotland, at the end of a dance.
In England, it is played at the end of the annual conference of the Trades Union Congress.
In United States, the song is used as a remembrance at memorial events.
So, whether you are celebrating or saying so-long to a friend or comrade, raise a glass to remember long time acquaintances, for they will remain in your heart forever, cherished and never to be forgotten.
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely you'll buy your pint cup and surely I'll buy mine ! And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine ; But we've wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine† ; But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.
And there's a hand my trusty friend ! And give us a hand o' thine ! And we'll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.
I never realized how long it actually was. It is really a song about just putting away the old year and asks us the question-should we forget. Should we? For many of us this past year has been a year full of ups and downs. It’s been a year where lives were changed. It has been a year of challenges. Some have seen their hopes dashed, while others have won the proverbial lottery. No matter what our circumstances were in 2010 they are behind us now.
Sometimes, when we are faced with the troubles of life we can begin to have doubts or worries. We begin to ask the question-what if? We then take a journey down all the possible avenues of all the possible outcomes of the scenarios that we are in, or about to go into. But you know we don’t have to be so pessimistic. We can also ask the question-what if? As a question full of optimism. Imagine where we could go if we asked the question what if? And focused on our faith instead of our troubles!
Firstly, let's ask the question what if this is the year of new beginnings? What if the year 2011 is going to be that year where a new adventure begins. Perhaps there is a new family member on the way, perhaps it is the year you get out of debt, or perhaps 2011 will be the year that you move away. Perhaps it will be the year that you set all your relationships straight. Reading through the Bible we find many new beginnings. In acts chapter 2 we read about the Christian church’s first Pentecost. It is a time when the Holy Spirit comes into the world as an empowering force. Some say that this is the very beginning of the Christian church. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the words to begin to preach salvation to the masses, and brings about the conversions of 3000 people. No matter what way you look at it this indeed is a great beginning.
In acts chapter 4 we read about in even bigger mass conversion that takes place on Solomon's porch at the Temple. 5000 men were converted that day.
I mentioned before that for some of you this would be a new beginning the year of new beginnings. You already see things that are happening and are expectant of their outcome. Some of you would know if your family is going to increase this year. Some of you know that you're going to make that last final payment on that bill that has been weighing you down for so long. While others of you may be getting ready to go into debt for some new venture in life. But there are other possibilities as well. For some, acts chapter 16 verse 31 will apply " So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”. For some people this will be the year that they can turn away from a life of sin, from a life devoid of the embraced truth. It will be the beginning of a new life choosing heaven over hell, choosing salvation over damnation.
Many of you have made that decision already. But perhaps, for some reason your life is gone a little astray. Perhaps you harbor a secret sin, and it is impeding your fellowship with God. 1 John 1:9 states that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Perhaps 2011 is the year that you confess that sin, and rededicate your life; you come back into full fellowship with God.
In Revelation 2:4-5 we read "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent." Perhaps, like the church in Ephesus, you have lost your first love. Perhaps you have lost the zeal of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps you have exchanged faith for duty and obligation, thus replacing Christ with religion. Many of us go through this and it is so great to be able to come back to our first love. Perhaps this year will be the time when you too come back to your first love.
As I mentioned before we have a tendency to look back and sometimes we keep looking back so much that we can't see where were going. This could be the year that you stop looking back and instead look up to Jesus in Hebrews 12:2 it is written " looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". Remembering the past is important, it helps to shape the things that we do and the decisions that we make. But we should not dwell on the past, instead we should look forward, look towards our hope in Christ.
Secondly, let's ask the question what if this is the year your prayers are answered? Acts 4:31 we read "31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." Now as far as I know none of us have felt the place where we pray shake when God answers our prayers, but he still finds ways to show us that he's listening and that he's active answering our prayers. And what have you been praying for, or for whom? Have you prayed that your children get right with God? Perhaps you pray for someone's spouse to come in Christ? Or maybe your prayers are more personal, and you are praying that this will be the year that you can conquer a negative attitude? Perhaps your prayer is one where your finances are settled, your bills are paid and you can finally give what you want to to God and his church? Some of you might be praying for restored health or even a restored marriage. So again I ask you, what if this is the year your prayers are answered? Imagine how your life will change!
What if this is the year of revival in your church? In acts 4:31–32 we read "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. " So what has happened here? They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.… We at times are filled with the Holy Spirit-aren't we? Are we so filled with the Holy Spirit that we can make things happen? Are we so filled with the Holy Spirit that we are constantly doing the work, and being the example of what being a Christian is all about? In a way revival is like going back to your first love. It is like putting everything on the line for Jesus Christ. It can begin with just one person, but it does not remain with one person. It is like throwing a lit match on gasoline. It ignites those around it. I believe that in this country it is so difficult to comprehend what a revival is, even though some of the biggest revivals have occurred right here in our country and some right here in our state. If we were to have revival in the church it would make this the year of forgiveness, it would make this the year of sharing, it would make this a year of reconciliation. Revival would make this the year when all barriers fall. When all the obstacles that we face as a church are no longer obstacles but steppingstones.
Fourthly, what if this is the year of evangelism? Acts 4:33 we read "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all." This is perhaps one of the greatest things that is missing in churches today. I remember reading that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son… And now we just read with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Do you see the pattern here? God gave his son. The apostles gave their witness. What are we giving? Are we giving our testimonies? Are people hearing and seeing the power of our witness? Or are we coming across as timid people, weak minded, unsure of ourselves, too scared to speak boldly, not with our voice but with the voice of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us. This be the year that we choose to be ambassadors of Christ witnessing to those around us and not only witnessing but showing them the way of salvation.
We've talked about many what if scenarios. But if we live by just our what if's then what good would that do. How can having all these what if's be of any importance? How can they be more than just wishful thinking? We've got another type of question we need to ask- why not? Why not get our act together? Why not be the Christians that God has called us to the? Why not use the gifts and talents that each and every one of us has to further God's kingdom? Why not tell our neighbors, whom we are told to love, about the love that God has for them? Why not share the good news that Jesus Christ saves. What do you have to lose? Anything? Better yet what do you have to gain? In Luke chapter 1 verse 37 it is written "For with God nothing will be impossible.” This doesn't say for with God some things or most things will be impossible, no nothing will be impossible. Flip it around, for with God everything is possible. All these things that we've talked about today can happen. I'd like to leave you today with a quote from an unknown source who said "let faith remove the limits and claim all God wants to give" do you have limits? Are you letting God do all that he can do? Sometimes, before God will answer our prayers, he awaits our answer to him. It is just two words, two little words that will open up all God has for us. Those two words are yes, Lord.