Note to Readers: This is the last post of 2018, and actually the last one you’ll get from me for awhile. I’m praying through a few new projects and taking a little break from the blog. Might be a few weeks; might be a month. And as I say to my children sometimes, when they pull out of the driveway and I know I won’t see them for awhile: The Lord be with you!
Which is actually a great segue into this week’s offering…
I’ve told you about Mark Forsyth before.
He’s the bestselling author of, among other books, The Elements of Eloquence. Which is where I discovered the word I was looking for, after re-reading the Christmas story last week.
Epanalepsis, if you need to jog the old bean, is a term that describes circular writing–ending up in the place where you began. Think the Beatles and Yesterday, or Robert Burns’ “Man’s inhumanity to man.” Epanalepsis implies continuation, the idea that something is on-going.
And nobody, if you ask me, uses epanalepsis better than Matthew.
You know how he begins his account. He gives us the back-story on Jesus, summing up the genealogy like this:
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
That’s Matthew 1:23, and it’s the only time in the entire New Testament where Jesus is called “Immanuel.” But it’s not the only time we hear that God is with us. That stuff is all over the Bible. And if you flip to Matthew 28–the very last verse in the very last chapter of Matthew’s story–you’ll see where Jesus says this:
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Isn’t that a neat bit of story-telling? I mean, the very first thing we learn about Jesus (that He is Immanuel) is also is also the very last thing Matthew tells us he says (that He is with us). Put another way–and had Matthew read Forsyth, he might even have put it like this–Jesus is One Big Epanalepsis, stretching out across history, with us forever and always.
So what does all of this on-going with-ness actually mean? What can we look forward to, as we move from one year to the next?
It means freedom from fear. God is with us, giving us the strength and the help that we need. (Isaiah 41:10)
It means peace and joy. God is with us, rejoicing over us, singing over us and quieting our hearts with His love. (Zephaniah 3:17)
It means unconditional love. God is with us–and nothing in our past, nothing in our present, nothing we could ever think or do or say in the future, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from His love. (Romans 8:38-39)
I could go on, but you get the idea. We might not know what 2019 has in store but wherever we are, whatever we face, whatever we may need in the way of strength or comfort or wisdom or peace, God has us covered. He is with us. And He loves us–today, tomorrow, and to the very end of the age.
Epanalepsis, personified. 😊
So Happy New Year! And may the Lord be with you–forever and always!