Closure & Hope: A Word (or 2) on New Year

rear-view-mirrorThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Rev. 21:1-5

Have you ever considered why we celebrate New Year?  I know the earth has completed an orbit around the sun.  But I believe the answer is much more profound than a solar orbit.  Indeed, I believe the answer is not astronomical, but spiritual.  I think it has to do with the human need for closure and hope.

New Year allows us to wrap all of the events of last year into one neat package which we can put away. 

We do this at many levels.  Individually, we may see our losses or failures.  These are unpleasant realities.  It does no good to dwell on them.  So we simply close those chapters and consign them to the past: “I failed, but that was last year.”

Families who had a difficult year find relief in knowing that the year is over.  I recall Queen Elizabeth II toward the end of 1993, when two of her sons saw marriages crumble, when a 500-year-old section of Windsor Castle was consumed by fire, when public sentiment turned against the monarchy.  The Queen gave a speech in which she referred to the preceding twelve months as an “Annus Horribilis,” i.e., a horrible year.

We see this need for closure in virtually every aspect of our lives—societal, financial, even political (how fitting that a new Presidential administration begins in January).

But the human need for closure is only half the story.  Along with our need to put the past behind us comes our need to look forward with hope. 

If the last twelve months witnessed loss or failure, at least we may hope that next year will see success.  If 2009 brought brokenness, we still have hope that 2010 will bring healing.

I believe this human need for closure and for hope is not accidental.  This is the way God has designed us.  He even seems to hint at this need by telling us of events that occurred on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year:

  • Noah removed the ark’s covering and saw dry ground (Gen. 9:13)
  • The Tabernacle was set up in the wilderness (Ex. 40:2)
  • Hezekiah purified the Temple and restored worship (2 Chr. 29:17)
  • Ezra left Babylon for Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 7:9)
  • Ezra purified the Levitical priesthood (Ezra 10:17)
  • Ezekiel purified the sanctuary for worship (Ezek. 45:18).

          Do you see how God allows us to close out a bad time and begin anew?

This need for closure and hope fits perfectly with the gospel.  All of us have sinned and fallen short of the mark God has set for us. We sin despite our best intentions and the sincerity of our resolutions.  We know that sin is failure and we long desperately for some means of putting it behind us.  At the same time, we yearn for a future free from this failure and struggle and loss.

And so God, who designed us with this need for closure and for hope, has provided both in Jesus, His Son.  In the death of Jesus, our sins are put away.  In His resurrection, we have hope of a life to come that is free from sin.  Jesus Christ promises all who believe on Him more than just a new year—He promises them a completely new life, life that will be made new every moment of eternity.

Are you overwhelmed by sadness, sin, loss and failure?  Don’t you want to put that behind you?  You may.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).  God is the God of eternal new beginnings.

What better way to begin the new year than with a fresh spiritual start, cleansed of sin and hopeful for the life that is to come. 

God’s richest blessings to you in 2010.

gkr1996 posted at 2010-1-4 Category: Theological