The New Year is a time to give thanks for the year past, and a time of new hope.
We give thanks because there is much in life to be thankful for: our parents who are still with us, the loving companionship of our children and grandchildren, and grace and blessings sufficient for our daily living. Even if the year had been difficult, we are still thankful for the loving comfort and warm support of those around us.
We have new hopes and expectations. Perhaps there were some disappointments and regrets in the past, but we look forward to a new beginning in the New Year. We will start afresh, change, make up for past mistakes or dismiss the matters from our mind. We may even look forward to a splendid year ahead.
When we were students, our teachers would always have us write down our New Year resolutions and encourage us to have plans and expectations for the year ahead. The new goals would give us directions to strive towards in the New Year.
In Leviticus 23:23-25, God instructed the Israelites to celebrate New Year. This is held on the first two days of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (i.e. during the months of September and October). The New Year celebration is very important to the Israelites. They assemble as families for a feast on the first two days and there will be blasts from trumpets of rams’ horns to signify the majesty and awe of the Lord. In the evening, they attend religious ceremonies in the synagogues. For the Israelites, New Year celebrations are a reminder of God’s creation and His judgment. They give thanks for themselves and what they have, and acknowledge that these are created and granted by God. At the same time, they repent of their wrongs and resolve to change their ways before God’s judgment comes upon them.
We welcome 2017 with joy on New Year’s Day. Let us give thanks for the past year and for having our families with us as we continue the journey through the coming 52 weeks, or 365 days, that the Lord blesses us with. The New Year also means new hopes and expectations: That 2017 will be a better year than the one that had gone by, and that our strength from the Lord will equal our days.
Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung –
was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2016. He served as President of the Chinese Annual Conference for two quadrennia from 2008 to 2016.
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