Why do we celebrate the new year?
I suppose there are some who are celebrating the fact that they made it through the preceding year. As a people, we made it through Covid and all of the hand-wringing, negativity, and sadly, some of the losses associated with that. And we also made it through whatever personal challenges were thrown at us in 2021. So, here we are, for better or worse. We survived the previous year and that’s something to celebrate and be grateful for.
But we also celebrate the fact that a new year is upon us. The thing about a new year is it’s a lot like opening up a Christmas present. Like the present, it is clean, bright, and new. Like the present, it won’t stay that way. In a few months or even a few weeks, it will be a little dingy and dinged up. But right now it isn’t and that state of newness brings us pleasure. It brings us pleasure because it allows us up to dream about the possibilities the year might hold. It’s like a clean sheet of paper or a blank screen—it’s just waiting for us to make our mark on it.
I think that’s why the new year tends to be a time of hope. We have this clean, bright, and new year before us, and we would like to use it well. That’s a God-honoring attitude for as someone said, Christ came into the world not to convict us our sins but to convince us our possibilities. It’s a healthy thing for us to allow Him to do that.
When Jesus went back to His home church in Nazareth, He said He was there “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:19). To His Jewish audience, this spoke of the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). This is when there was a reset in Israel. All the land went back to its original owner. The land itself was not to be farmed in that year, but to be refreshed. It was a time when everything was clean, bright, and new.
Paul will tell us that if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is the clean, bright, and new that the Jubilee pointed toward. For this is not a newness that wears off—time and circumstance have no power over it—this is a newness that remains because of Christ.
That’s the newness we need.
While this newness is a possibility for those who don’t yet know Christ, for those who are His disciples, it’s a reality we need to embrace. What people look for in the new year, God blesses us with as our status in Jesus. And He’s given it to us that we might be free to dream dreams and ponder possibilities for Him.
That’s something to celebrate!
Happy New Year!