The New in the New Year
As a child I remember waking up on New Year’s Day and walking around the house, looking for something new. I asked my parents to show me something that was new and they would simply point to the calendar. I was not convinced until I found a penny or nickel that had the new year printed on it. Naturally that would take several weeks or months to find.
Perhaps that is why I have never been good at New Year’s resolutions. Part of my reason is that our New Year’s celebration comes at such an odd time, in the middle of winter. I would rather start a new resolution in the spring, when everything is budding and alive. My physical exercise always seems to pick up a notch when I can bike in just shorts and a light jacket: no mittens, hat, tights, or toe warmers. And my devotional life seems to shift by the seasons as well. In the spring and summer, I want to be more active, serving God in tangible, concrete ways: serving in my church or community. In the late fall and winter, I become more introspective, contemplative, spending time in study and prayer. And by New Year’s Day, Minnesota has already been locked into winter for more than a month.
Plus church life rarely revolves around New Year’s Day (with the exception of budgets). The church year of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and Lent have grown into a significant part of my walk with Jesus. The people of God have always focused on the birth of Jesus, not the start of a new calendar. One of the unique joys of interim ministry is that I have the opportunity to discover the unique traditions and rhythms of a congregation’s life. And hopefully as an interim pastor, I bring some new perspective to how a congregation sees itself. I am thankful that St. Luke (and St. Mark) have open my eyes to new ways the Spirit is moving.
So what do I do with New Years? Treat it with the respect and joy that every day deserves. The psalmist declares: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Each dawn is a new beginning that invites me to discover God in the midst of my day. I can greet God in this moment of this day. May each day of 2019 be filled with the joy of the Lord.