Happy New Year 2016 (think I got that right…!)
Now that Christmas festivities are out of the way, it’s time to look towards a new year. Perhaps you’ve chosen to make some New Year resolutions? Perhaps you’ve made some holiday plans? Perhaps you’ve decided that this year will finally be the year you’ll get that kitchen/bathroom/garden changed? Perhaps you’ve resolved to learn how to use a mobile phone (or to switch it on more often) or to get some lessons on using a computer? Perhaps you’ve just agreed that this year is the time to enjoy yourself and live for the moment?
Whatever you’ve decided, resolutions at the beginning of the year help us to set before ourselves some goals to achieve. Some people are very motivated and able to work towards something without a goal; I’m not one of those people! I need to have an idea of what I’m aiming for, what I want to achieve, when it should be done, and how I might be able to get there. Other people are much better motivated than me, and will learn a new skill or get something achieved without needing the encouragement. But either way, the growth, the progression, the development from where we are now to somewhere better is what is needed. It’s not about staying put where we are; it’s about becoming better people, making a better environment, developing a better quality of life.
In our Christian life the challenges are the same. The new Christian year invites us to think anew about the Christ child and his progression from the arms of Mary to the outstretched arms of the cross. The Christian calendar moves us through the seasons of Jesus’s life from new-born to re-born, and takes us on the pathway from Bethlehem, to Galilee, to Jerusalem, and to Emmaus. Now we start out on that journey ourselves.
The Christian seasons give us a set of goals to aim for each year, as a cycle that takes us from life to death and back again. It gives us a number of focuses to aim for, and a timetable to do it. What it invites us to do is to think about how we want to mark these seasons, and how we can go about doing it. These seasons, these occasions — like New Year resolutions — are something that we can work towards, plan for, and see how they make us grow each time. They give us opportunities for growth, for progression, for development from where we are now to somewhere that is better. They give us personally, and corporately, the opportunity to develop in our discipleship and in our reflection of the new-born Christ to the world.
In the coming weeks, as we begin to look into a new year, to start a new calendar and Christian year together, we will begin to think about how the seasons lead us towards developing in our life and in our relationship with the community in which we are based. It is time to think about how we develop, about what targets we can set ourselves, about what things we may want to do differently this year so that we can better reflect the gospel story that the seasons direct our Christian calendar through.
In this New Year, may we work towards our resolutions and our seasons, developing ourselves and deepening our relationship with the God who comes to us in a child – but speaks to us as teacher and guide.