What’s to celebrate?

What’s to celebrate?

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22,23).

Once again this year, the crowds will gather in Times Square to count down the seconds until the ball drops and the new year begins. The scene will be duplicated around the world in different ways, from the large boisterous crowds gathered in city centers to the smaller parties of revelers meeting in homes or restaurants.

Watching those annual celebrations brings a touch of mild amusement and sadness at the same time. What exactly are these people celebrating? Are they congratulating themselves for “surviving” another year, as if they themselves had something to do with the fact that they are still living and breathing? Are they foolishly convinced that their lives will be significantly different on Jan. 1 and during the months ahead than they were only a day before on Dec. 31? Do they really think that the mere changing of the page of the calendar will give them the strength and resolve to be better people? It’s amusing when you think of the amazing ability of people to deceive themselves. And it’s sad to know that these people, so optimistic and happy and ready to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, will wake up to the same empty and joyless lives on New Year’s Day.

We can thank God that our celebration of a new year can be different. Rather than thinking that Jan. 1 and the days that follow will bring sudden changes to our lives, we enter the new year knowing that the days to come will be much the same as the days past. We will mark another birthday or another anniversary, but the days will not change dramatically.

On each day of the new year, just as he did every day of the past year, God will continue to give sinners like us the opportunity to confess our utter sinfulness. Every day will be a day to acknowledge that it is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. This year, just as in the year concluded, a gracious God will give us the opportunity to return daily to the foot of the cross to be assured that God’s mercies in Christ are new every morning. Each day is another day in the time of grace that God has shown us—a time to celebrate with joy all that he has done for sinners like us.

We don’t only celebrate God’s mercy in his forgiveness that is new every day. We also celebrate that, because of that same mercy, each day of the coming year will be another gift of God in which to hear and cherish his Word that is preached in our churches and read in our homes. Every day will be another opportunity to serve and thank him. Each day will be another day for us to love and honor our spouses; to care for and teach our children; to honor and obey our parents; to serve others in our Christian vocations; to show love and compassion to those in need; and to share the good news of a Savior with people who have no reason to celebrate, not just in our personal encounters but also through missions around the world.

In that way, the new year will not really be new. It will be more of the same. But for those who know the mercy of God and who know their Savior, that is every reason to celebrate.

 

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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 102, Number 1
Issue: January 2015

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