Time departing toward the end of one history and the beginning of another. Or is it the same history, burdened to relive the momentum of actions past forever and ever? History, wandering aimlessly so, seeks relief from the end of all ends.

“The end of history in the sense of the inner aim or the telos of history is ‘eternal life.’”[1]

The New Year comes, but is there anything truly new about this “New” Year? For what new thing can come from an old history? 20, 21, 22…, what do these numbers signify besides the continuation of history? The same history of long ago and the will-be of far flung futures.

 “Past and future meet in the present, and both are included in the eternal ‘now.’”[2]

This boundary separating the old and the new, which dutifully marks the passage of time, our time, comes as a relief for some and a dreaded moment for others. But does the end ever truly mean an end? Is there a purpose or is history just a perpetuating liminality? Perhaps the “New” Year’s greatest gift is the present, a brief respite between past burdens and future worries. A meeting place that reveals the true character of past and future as aspects of the same “now.”

 “We stand now in face of the eternal, but we do so looking ahead toward the end of history and the end of all which is temporal in the eternal.”[3]

11:59pm, a pause in time. But the “New” Year only brings an old thing. Temporal, finite, measurable. A pale symbol of eternal’s glow, which illuminates the past, present, and future into an unending now. But not this day, nor in the days to come, when “New” Years become too numerous to count. No, Eternity waits for us at the place where all that is old is no more, the “New” ceases to be “New,” and we come face to face with the end of history.  

“The fulfilment of history lies in the permanently present end of history…”[4]

[1] Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology Volume III (University of Chicago, 1963), 394.

[2] Tillich, 395.

[3] Tillich, 396.

[4] Tillich, 396.

Photo by Murray Campbell on Unsplash

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