Grace and Peace to you.
A new year is upon us. It’s time to take down the old calendar, and if it has nice pictures, save it—you can use it again in 2022— and put up the new one, or the 1984 one that you’ve saved for 2012.
As you do, ponder the old calendar. Look at all those days. God was with you on every one of them. Think of all you’ve done, and give thanks for your endeavors. Give thanks for all the people you met, the folks who did things for you, the souls you touched, the companions you had on the way. Give thanks for all you’ve seen, and marvel at how the things that you’ve experienced, and the ways you chose to receive them, have become a part of who you are. Give thanks for the challenges, the terrible days, the long hauls, for they, too, are part of the journey that has brought you to this day, and part of who you are.
And of course remember all your mistakes, and even more important, what you learned from them. And know that as you leave behind the old year, all those mistakes are forgiven. The little goofs and the profound betrayals, the odd slips and the unbreakable habits, all are forgiven. They are as past as that old year, gone. All that remains is wisdom, what you learned from them.
You have changed and grown. That’s the good news as you stand at the threshold of a new year: we can change. In the new year we can become new people. Of course we resist change, but the truth is that it’s really not change that we dislike so much as loss. It’s our resistance to change that’s hard. Change, and the loss of the familiar, puts us in a vulnerable, powerless position, a place where we’re not in control, and we don’t “know” enough. That’s what we don’t like.
And that— that place of powerlessness, dependence and not knowing— is the gospel place, the place where our only hope, and our only power, is God. It’s the place Jesus invites us to be. It’s all about dying first and then rising. Did you notice last Sunday what Simeon in the temple said about the baby Jesus? “This child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel” (Lk. 2.34). Not the rise and fall, like coming and going. But the falling (first) and then the rising. So 2012 is the year you will die.
And rise. You will surrender everything to God’s infinite love, and let God re-create you. Enter the new year ready to die and rise in the Spirit of the Eternal One who gives you life as a gift. So this new year will be great—it will include your birth-day!
As you put up the new calendar, even if it says 1984, be mindful that you are about to become someone new. This re-creation will involve loss, and you will be tempted to resist it. But God will be with you every single one of those 366 days. Be ready to accept the changes that will come, to rely on God’s merciful presence, and to be re-created in this new time. The whole year will come at you one moment at a time; you can enter into each present moment, willing and lovingly present, for you will be in the Loving Presence.
May God deeply bless your new year. It will be good.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes