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New Year Blues

30December2011

“‘I am the alpha and the omega,’ says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Soon the clock will strike midnight. Where will you be?  January is typically a hard month to wrap my head around. I’m never quite ready for it. Christmas still lingers (in a good way) until that moment when at long last the boxes come out again.  Then our elf on the shelf, my grandmother’s figurine carolers we aquired, my German smokers, and various Nativity sets all make their way into storage. I purchased a John the Baptist figurine to go with my Nativity set this year. The first two weeks in Advent he stood in front of the manger until Mary and Joseph arrived. Then he watched from the side, almost pointing to the manger to say,”See, the one I’ve been waiting for will go there.” Christmas day he did. It will be almost eleven months before John will start to “prepare the way of the Lord” again. Back into his box he goes. Other new things like a Playmobile Advent set will also find its way into its box to be put away. If you look on the horizon soon you will see the wise men making their journey back home too. They look back with a sigh and a wave as if to say, “See you in Advent.” It is going to be a long year.

There is also the problem of waiting until at least February before signing checks with the appropriate year in the top right hand box. Those first ones have many scribbles in the date box as last year’s date lingers around a few weeks. Oh yes, it is now 2012, where has the time gone?

People make resolutions for the New Year, and by mid January most of them have been broken. Why are we so bad at this? Chalk it up to human frailty. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because I find little reinforcement to find new discipline. I’ve found it is better for me to save things I’d like to work on or incorporate new disciplines into my life once Lent arrives. There at least seems to be a little more connection for me in linking those 40 days of reflection on the way to the cross into a change than simply the flip of the calendar.

January can also be cold. OK I live in southern Connecticut. It is not cold like Minnesota or Wisconsin or Illinois where I have lived in the past, but the crisp air and early nights can still chill you down to the core if you are ill prepared. Cozy slippers, nights bundled up by a fire (or some other warm place) to read or watch TV, and warm comfort food can get that chill out, but as we look out the window to see what is blowing around out there we are quickly reminded how far away summer seems.  Sometimes the New Year just brings the blues.

Of course the New Year brings good things too: snow to romp around in; new toys play with; renewed connections; and that feeling at the end of cleaning up all the Christmas décor that at long last we can get back to normal. Somehow I crack a smile the first time I write a check with the correct year in the box, and feel like I’ve accomplished something important.

We head into a New Year with its predictabilities as well as its uncertainties. We also head into it with faith – God has not forsaken us, and calls this holy time, “The Year of the Lord.”  We know we will have grand Easter celebrations no matter how dark our Good Fridays are. We know in ten or eleven months the Christmas decorations will come out again, and we will stand with John the Baptist – pointing to prepare the way. We know there will be weddings, funerals, baptisms and confirmations along with plenty of “regular” weeks to gather for worship and learning and service and we will encourage others along the way. We will welcome new friends and say goodbye to a few as well. At the center of it all, we know that Christ is present. He is the constant Christmas present that sustains us all year long, on darkest nights and sunny days, in death, in life and in each day that God gives us to fill our lungs with deep breaths and sigh, “thank you Lord.”

May your New Year be full of many such sighs, for this Year of the Lord is upon you.

GTS@CCD

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