For years now I’ve been trying to get my head right about the New Year’s “holiday.”
And there we have it. Tripped and skinned my knee on the problem right there in my first paragraph. New Year’s Day is indeed a holiday, but, if you ask me, the closest it gets to being a “holy” day is that it’s the eighth day of Christmas. Now that I will celebrate. (No maids a-milking required.)
Don’t get me wrong. I like days off for pretty much any reason not related to sickness or death. Most of us could use more of them, not less. We’d work better on the days we’re “on” if we were disciplined enough, or fortunate enough, to get more days “off.” As a wise person (John Lubbock) wrote long ago, “Rest is not idleness.” And God gave a commandment about it. I like holidays. I just tend to like the truly “holy” holidays the best. (I’m an Earth Day Scrooge, too, but that’s another story.)
New Year’s Day and I have long had a rather dicey relationship. I think the relationship started a bit of a downward slide right about the same time my theology began to make some much-needed movement in an upward direction. God’s “good news,” the gospel, is the best news of all because it centers in what HE has done through Christ, not what WE have done. The gospel is not just another of humanity’s dreary multitude of self-improvement programs. God’s grace really is amazing. If we could earn it, it would not be grace. And not even close to “amazing.” Just business as usual in this world.
What we’ve just celebrated—what happened in Bethlehem—is all about something that only God could do, something that our Creator, out of amazing love, actually did. It’s an incredible gift! It is for us, but it could not by any stretch of the imagination be produced by us. We can’t create it; we can only in joyful humility accept it.
If we’re not careful, New Year’s finds us waving around our little sparkler, prattling about all of the resolutions we make as we focus largely on our own power, looking yet again at life through the wrong end of the telescope. All full of ourselves, we flick our little lighters, making about as much real light and producing as much warmth as Bob Cratchit’s little pseudo-fire produced before Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation issued in more coal and genuine warmth. (What a delightful story!)
Christmas centers on the most amazing gift of the Father, the Baby miraculously sent from Heaven and into this world at Bethlehem. New Year’s? Well, sparklers and a man-made fake crystal ball mechanically winched down at Times Square seem a bit anticlimactic since God has already come down! Now THAT was an event!
But wait a minute! I’m preaching straight to me when I say that our Lord specialized in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. Water to wine, remember? What if, as the new year dawns, we ask our God to help us open our eyes and focus on the amazing ways He makes every day, every moment, holy, as we receive each of our days, each of our breaths, as gifts from Him?
May this new year be filled with such days, such times, in our lives!
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.