Somewhere in the early days of humankind, someone decided time must be measured. Perhaps it was because they observed that time on earth goes in cycles; Fall to Winter, Winter to Spring, Spring to Summer and Summer to Fall. I don't know about you, but for the month that includes the longest day of the year, time in December seems to speed up. It seems I barely get everything in order for Christmas and suddenly the New Year zooms into my life like a spaceship with booster rockets. The year's end is an all too vivid reminder that time does not stop, but as the old saying goes, "it marches on".
Ancient cultures as well as our own, all celebrated the closing of a year and the beginning of a new one. The Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians celebrated it during the fall equinox. The Greeks celebrated their New Year at the winter solstice while the Romans originally celebrated it on March first. When the names of the months were changed, so was the New Year to January first, and that has carried on to the present.
No matter when New Year is celebrated, for most it is a time of reflection and resolve. The Romans depicted this in their god Janus, who has two heads. One faces forward, the other looks behind. For some reflecting on the year behind brings a sense of satisfaction or a sigh of relief; for others it is a more serious matter and may bring guilt or sorrow. And many will use the time to set goals for the coming year. Goals reflect what a person values and considers important.
Many of us will set personal goals this year. We will plan to lose weight, become more organized, take a trip to a place we've always wanted to visit, learn something new, and so on. These are all good goals, but as Disciples of Christ, perhaps we should be challenged and encouraged to set our goals as Jesus did. His first and foremost goal was to do the Father's Will (see Luke 9:51), and He did this above everything else, even His personal comfort. There were also four key activities that Jesus practiced: prayer, reflection on God's Word, fellowship and spreading the Good News. Why not make these four things your "New Year's resolution" this year? Look for opportunities where you can put them into practice; not just during your worship service, but throughout the week. Set your face toward doing them as resolutely as Jesus did toward Jerusalem.