Before it’s way too late to make a final comment on New Year: I just need to get this off my chest.
I think New Year is a really odd thing to celebrate!
I simply don’t get it. Why do we stay up to midnight to celebrate one day turning into another, one year into the next, or even one decade into the next. (By the way, we were in the ‘naughties’, so what are we in now? The teenies?)
To celebrate implies some kind of acheivement. Whereas in fact all we’ve done is hang around long enough for the moment to come round. If simply reaching a particular moment in time is an acheivement then by rights we ought to throw a party every morning: ‘whoopee! I’m awake, it’s a new day!’.
Actually, that’s exactly what we ought to be doing. In the last week two people I know have heard the words ‘I’m sorry to say it’s cancer’ and one of them was sent home without even the offer of treatment, just a promise to ‘manage the pain’. Suddenly one becomes very aware that the clock is counting down…
But the clock is actually ticking for all us, the only difference for the rest of us is that we don’t know how long it will take to wind down. But it’s certainly not in control and I guess that’s what feels odd about celebrating new year, it gives us the illusion that we in control when we are not. We cannot bring in a ‘happy new year’ by determined partying on Dec 31st. Such staged events are rarely the ones that change the course of our lives. It’s the ‘thing’ that happens on a dull Tuesday afternoon that more often alters our outlook: the doctor’s appointment, the accident, the misjudgement we’ll always regret.
Some people would have us believe that we are all like insignificant leaves floating on a river, being carried by the current under bridges that mark the years, lucky if we stay afloat for ‘long enough’ but inevitably sucked down into nothingness.
I find this a very dehumanising way of thinking. I much prefer the reassurance offered in the Bible by Psalm 139. Words that tell me that each one of us is individually known to God. God knew me when I came into being because he formed me, he ‘knitted me together’ in my mother’s womb. He knows my thoughts, my daily comings and goings, my words (before I even say them). I am not a lost leaf on a fast flowing, impersonal river, I am held instead in the current of God’s love and no matter where I go, there is no place I can put myself that is beyond his reach and care. Just as he oversaw my begining, so he will oversee my end for ‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book’ (v16)
So every day I’m given, is a day to be celebrated. I have no idea if I’ll be given tomorrow. As the good book says ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it’.
Shelia, I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. As I’m nearing 57 I’ve been around long enough to see New Year’s Eve go from a minor issue following Christmas (except north of the border) to becoming the climax of a mid winter festival.
Why is this? I think it is partly because we live in an hedonistic society where only the parties matter but I suspect that there is a bit more to it than that. Christmas itself has stopped being the centre of the celebrations for the majority of the populations. Yes, they celebrate the 25th December but they are not celebrating the mystery of the incarnation – unless it’s the “in car nation” going to the next party / family re-union. Jesus has even been taken out of the calendar as we are no longer ‘allowed’ to use AD and BC!!
Don’t get me wrong I’m not against a mid winter party, as I think Jesus would have enjoyed some aspects of it, but it has all become secular so why 25/12 or 31/12?