A New Year, A New Me (?)

1388095921000-new-yearsNew Year’s.
Birthdays.

New Year’s.
Birthdays.

New Year’s.
Birthdays.

New Year’s.
Birthdays.

New Year’s.
Birthdays.

New Year’s.

New Year’s.

New Year’s.

New Year’s. Well, here we are once again. The oddest holiday of all. A one-second holiday. The one where we all pretend we’re ecstatic that the calendar has turned in on itself once again and here we are to repeat the whole thing yet once again. And again. And (hopefully?) agai.

One second we’re old. The next we’re new again. We’ve shed our psychological skin and embraced a new beginning. Or the monkey on our back has added a few pounds and feels just a bit heavier as we face the prospect of carrying it around for another trip around the sun.

We celebrate the passing of time because we’ve survived. Some of it felt like it was in our control (even though most of it didn’t). There’s no reason we should have survived this year’s lap of a giant 1,000/hour spinning marble around a flaming ball of explosive gases, held in place by a rock finding its identity in spinning around us as we spin around the ball of fire.

As the years swallow themselves, we remember those who didn’t survive this year’s cruise around the sun. We know that one day, maybe soon, most definitely sooner than we’d like, we will join them in jettisoning this spinning ball.

As we lap the sun once again, we are torn. Should we celebrate our survival or mourn those whose time ended? Can you do both? Can you do both without guilt?  Isn’t curious that so many of our celebrations are about nothing more than the fact that we survived another year?

And yet with each Birthday. With each trip around the sun. With each New Year, we instinctively cling to the hope that things will can get better. Things will get better.Things have to get better. They just have to because I can’t keep on like this. Not another year.

I don’t know how you understand these annual rites of passage but I can’t help but interpret them through the Biblical Story. We celebrate the passing of each year with resolutions for the same reason we mythologize the Phoenix rising from the ashes: we believe in redemption. We long for restoration. Something deep inside us, un/happy as we might be, feels like we were created for more. So much more. This just quite doesn’t seem like all of this creation business has lived up to its potential. Things just aren’t quite as they should be.

We celebrate the passing of another year with hopes to do better knowing that we won’t. Believing that maybe we can’t. Maybe the set of chemicals injected into us by our parents and theirs before have simply determined how each year, each month, each day will play itself out. But I don’t think so.

Because God Himself entered in to human history. The Eternal stepped in to time. The Perfect into the imperfect. Trusting God fully; wholly; completely, in every way. In ways I could never. In ways I would never. Even to the end. Unto the end. Through it all. Even to death. Death on a cross. Through the grave and into Intercession.

My faith in Jesus reminds me that, left to myself, relying on my own devices, I won’t do any better with this coming year than I did the last. I can make all of the resolutions I want and more but I won’t keep them unless I want to and I won’t want to unless my heart itself changes and I won’t ever want to unless something (SomeOne) outside of me acts on my behalf.

My faith in Jesus provides each year, each moment, with purpose. The passing of each year throws me to the floor with gratefulness. I know I cannot do it without Jesus because I’ve had more than enough chances to prove otherwise and each time I end up with nowhere to go but to Him.

I know that some of you have views on Jesus than I do. I’m not here to argue with you. I just want you to know that, in spite of the way many Christians express themselves politically or culturally, or artistically, or in-person, our story is one of death and renewal. Our God died in our place so that we might live.

The passing of each year brings us to the end of ourselves once again. As we optimistically bear weights we’re not sure we can bear, we are reminded that God bears our burdens so that following Him (this year and the next, and the next, etc.) might bring relief to our souls. Could this be the year we’re anxious for nothing? Could this be when we finally learn to be calm in the storm? The Foundation is there, but will we stand on it or lose our grip?

The passing of this year and every year reminds the Christian that we cannot face what’s next on our own. And thankfully, we don’t have to.

What does the new year mean to you?