Bethlehem will always trump Times Square

Curtis Shelburne

We all know what time does, right? Tempus fugit! I learned that phrase long ago in one of the most practically valuable classes I’ve ever taken, the Latin class at Amarillo’s Sam Houston Junior High. Mister Craddock would be proud. Tempus (time) fugit (flies)!

As I write, we’re slipping into the wee hours of Jan. 2, 2012. Years ago I tried some future-predicting based on a very little math (a very little math is the only kind I’ve ever done). I figured that I’d likely live to see this world roll on past 2000, but that I’d be very old—older than 40!—when it happened. It did, and I was. Over a decade ago.

Tempus fugit. In a little over two weeks my oldest granddaughter will be 5. In a little over a week, I’ll be 55. Brylan’s settled on a “Strawberry Shortcake” theme for her party. I’m leaning toward something from “The Lord of the Rings” for mine. I may go as Gandalf, the wise old good wizard. All I’ll need is white hair, a white beard, and a long staff. (Hmm. The mirror says all I’ll need is the staff.) If I hang a banner, it will boast this Scripture: “Now Barzillai was old and advanced in years” (2 Samuel 19:32).

I’m way short of the wisdom of a Barzillai or a Gandalf, but I find myself on this eighth day of Christmas doing what old guys do: musing. What a contrast between the two parties! Not Brylan’s and mine, but the one in Times Square and the one in Heaven.

It’s nice that they drop the big crystal ball in Times Square each new year, but to plot a wise course for the future, it’s good to remember that earthly crystal balls are mostly hollow, about as short of real substance as sparklers and confetti.

If you want substance, Bethlehem will always trump Times Square. Mankind messes with sparklers and glitz and trumped up resolutions, valuable only because they remind us yet again of how valueless is human resolve. God sends angels from the realms of glory trumpeting the good news of real salvation that comes completely from outside of ourselves, the birth of the Savior, God’s power doing for us what we could never do for ourselves.

I don’t know how long “tempus” (time) will go on “fugit-ing” (flying). But I’m sure of this: When Times Square has long since gone dark and the last sparkler of human resolve has fizzled, the real party in Heaven will just be gearing up, and God’s joy will still be wonderfully and forever ablaze.

That’s a party I don’t want to miss!