Waking up to a new year

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge - Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

With Christmas past we wake up to a new year. The shopping, celebrations, and season’s greetings diminish. We note that the Twelve Days of Christmas formerly observed has been replaced with a new tradition. Instead of beginning our celebrations on Christmas Day as it was years ago, we trim our trees and go to parties any time after Thanksgiving. The big festival builds until Christmas Day. Soon after, the wreaths and ornaments are taken down and the tree is on the curb. We’re back to work or school and our daily routines.

New Year’s Day, however, continues the custom of making resolutions for the year ahead. Some of these last all year; others are forgotten. When making resolutions some don’t tell anyone what they have resolved so if one is broken no one will know. It works for “Lola” in the comic strip, and may for you as well.

In our spiritual lives the New Year provides a time to review our prayer practice and to renew our commitment to love God and our neighbor. Just as we sweep the floor and find a place for the Christmas tree, New Year’s offers a time to rearrange our schedules, let go of hurtful baggage, and to take on practices that will enhance our lives. While this involves personal discipline to accomplish our goals, it should be seen in a positive light. New Year’s is no time to punish ourselves, but to dust off the troubles of the past and to pursue new achievements. Leave a little room for an occasional flub.

“Waking up,” and with a smile, is a practice some of us maintain on a regular basis. At an elderly age it is a joy to wake to a new day. We read the morning paper and are not found in the obituaries. The day is new, and we don’t take it for granted. It is a day to thank God for the gift of life, to celebrate relationships with family and friends, and to pursue positive activities even if small. Little achievements can be encouraging. We don’t have to create a forest to enjoy a young sapling. And our prayer time can bring strength to love and serve. Our routine can include a delicious meal and a return to bed with a good book and a nightcap.

Enjoy your new year. Feed a thankful heart; and let it become a loving heart. A loving heart touches the very heart of God.

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge

Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

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