New Year

Rejoicing in the New Year

"Třanovský knew something about suffering. He lived during the devastating Thirty-Year War, was imprisoned once, exiled twice, and forced to move several times. Three of his children died, and both he and the people under his care suffered the consequences of wars, pillaging, and pestilence. He was bedridden and in pain for eight months before going to meet his Savior." - Ref21

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A Week to Reflect

This is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and, through the years, I have learned how valuable this time at the end of the year really is. It allows us to evaluate and to look forward. While we can never truly plan the future (Jas. 4:13-14), attempting to prepare for it can be a wonderfully enriching experience.

This year’s calendar worked out perfectly. We observed Christmas last week, and we’ve already had the final Sunday of the year. That gave us these days to work on the last details for 2020 and plan for 2021. If your position allows you this luxury, I would strongly encourage you to try it. If you’ve already missed it, don’t despair. There’s still time to begin a tradition of preparing for the new year. As I explain how I look at the year ahead, I hope it might encourage you to consider your own planning for 2021.

I naturally think of the year in terms of holidays, seasons, themes, emphases and events that provide structure, richness and meaning. One reason 2020 was hard on me is that so many of my plans were interrupted, and every day from March to July tended to blend in with the rest. But as I grow in my responsibilities with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, I find that my calendar flows directly with the way in which I intuitively divide the year. And looking at the big picture first helps me fill in the gaps with details.

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Gone but Not Gone

I love calendars, especially the twelve month variety with a beautiful picture on each page. They usually arrive in December, and I enjoy selecting the ones I will use during the coming year. On the first of January, I hang two new calendars, one in my study and another in my shop, while Marti does the same in the kitchen and at her desk. Of course, we must discard the old calendars, but I can never do so without a moment of reflection. Twelve pages of numbers tossed into heaps of household trash, but what momentous events those rumpled pages represent. Days of our lives now gone, like fallen leaves of autumn.

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Psalm 90: New Year’s Resolutions for Every Day

Of the 150 psalms that constitute the largest book in the Bible, Moses penned only one, so we approach Psalm 90 with particular interest. What was so significant about the prayer of this one who spoke face to face with God (Exodus 33:11), that his prayer would later be included in this important collection?

The psalm is introduced as “A prayer of Moses, the man of God,” telling us the kind of literature this is and identifying its author. Verses 1-2 focus on the character and sovereignty of God. He is transcendent (“even from everlasting you are God”), He is the Creator of all (“…you gave birth to the earth and the world”), and at the same time He is intimately involved with His creation (“You have been our refuge” [Heb., maon]). Because of who He is identified to be in verses 1-2, it is inarguable that He has the right to deal with His creation as the next verses describe.

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From the Archives: A Resolution on Resolutions

This year my New Year’s Resolution is to celebrate New Year’s at a time more conducive to change and renewal—oh say, spring instead of the dark, dead of winter when I’m just coming off the sugar high of the holidays. Somehow I think we Gregorian calendar devotees have got this one all wrong.

Historically, New Year’s Day hasn’t always fallen on January first because our calendar hasn’t been a consistent entity. Factor in a few mythological gods, Roman emperors, and a pope or two. Add a dash of Protestant Reformation and you’ll find that in the past, the New Year occurred anywhere from January 1 to March 25. (Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1752 that England and the American colonies began celebrating New Year’s on January 1st.) That’s nothing to say of the multiple cultures that celebrate it in recognition of their own calendars.  And if you really want your head to spin, don’t forget all our dear southern hemisphere friends who experience the seasons opposite to us and whose Christmas and New Year’s celebrations include BBQs on the beach.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in my experience, making resolutions on January 1 is a bad idea.

Because there’s nothing particularly organic about celebrating the New Year this way. For most of us, it’s simply a function of the calendar and happens primarily because we’ve reached the end of the month and need to turn the page (or in my case, glue magnets on the back of my 2012 office-sized calendar from Target and stick it to the side of the refrigerator.) Think about it—there is no seasonal change or religious celebration that would motivate us to make resolutions; it’s simply a cultural obligation. Or, in my experience, the result of the guilt from eating too much, exercising too little and overspending in the last six weeks since Thanksgiving.

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