“Old long ago” is the literal meaning of this phrase which usually shows up once a year. We hear it sung as a huge crystal ball is lowered in Times Square. The title could be loosely interpreted as “in days gone by, days of yore, or even, once upon a time.” I prefer the latter. When we have a Once Upon a Time, we are almost always assured of a Happily Ever After.
Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, is usually attributed with writing the words to this poem, but Burns didn’t take credit for it. Apparently he was a historian of sorts and would keep track of old sayings and stories which had been passed down from generation to generation. The words are designed to have us say goodbye to the past and look forward to the future.
For most of us, we look at this special ending as a new starting point. It would be nice to start with a clean slate, but history shows that we will continue to make mistakes, fall victim to lies or slander, botch up a relationship, have no control over our finances, and set unattainable goals which often fail shortly after we make them.
If there was no hate across the globe – if we could experience peace instead of war – if we could agree or at least make concessions – if would could look at our fellow man as our friend – if we could truly be like Jesus and have a complete servant attitude – if we could set aside our differences and try to see the other person’s point – if we could learn to share each others’ burdens – Wouldn’t it be nice?
It will be that way when we reach heaven. God promised to take away all the negatives from our lives. He says there will be no more sorrow, no tears, no pain. Those words are not empty, but while we wait for that day, we can learn mend some of our differences by returning to some of our basic values.
It starts with thinking outside of ourselves. One of the greatest faults of humanity is that we can’t see beyond our own needs and wants. The lack of patriotism, the selfishness we see in marriage, the disrespect for authority, the lack of two parent families, the faltering value placed on life and death -the dying off of the physical church – all attribute to our decline.
This year end will be like all the others we’ve experienced. We may begin with optimism, but soon our dreams are dashed and we fall into old ways. One piece of literature has survived the centuries and will continue to touch lives. The Bible is our great heritage. Like Robert Burns, we can keep it alive by passing it from one generation to another. Of course, since it is the true Word of God, it will survive for eternity, just as we will when we believe that Jesus has a room waiting for us in heaven.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! MAY GOD BE YOUR PARTNER IN LIFE AND MAY YOU BE BLESSED WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE.