This New Year Begins With Waiting

Candles at the Christmas Tree Lighting 2015

This year, in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes a new year’s celebration. We usually think of a new year beginning on January 1. Or for some of us, after many years of being in school and then planning life around kids’ school schedules, September can feel like the beginning of a new year. These are times of fresh starts and naming resolutions to put into practice our better self. We all hunger to be made new. We yearn for new beginnings that stir up the hope that growth and change are possiblethat we get another chance to do it differently this time . . . to do it better.

Advent is the beginning of the new year in the Christian calendar. It is celebrated not with confetti, parades, and parties, or with cool new office supplies, a backpack, and fresh commitments to reading schedules. It is a new year that begins in the dark, as days are shortening and growing colder. It begins with us sitting with our hopes and longings for the light to come, waiting for what we need.

G. K. Chesterton wrote:

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective . . . Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

This Advent new year celebration begins with resolutions that sound more like confessions as we acknowledge that we need the God who comes, Emmanuel, God embodied and enfleshed to bring the birth that we cannot produce ourselves. Our Advent new year resolutions are cries of faith that God will see our deep needs and will hear our longings to become a part of a much bigger story. What is your Advent resolution this year? In what way are you needing the light and life of God to bring you new feet or a new soul or new ears this year?

May Advent be a wonderful new beginning for each one of us. And as we start this new year together, may these words of Scripture be experienced in our lives in deeper and richer ways:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.Lamentations 3:22-26

+ Read more from our series of Advent reflections here.