Today is New Year’s Eve. Some of us will stay up until midnight, while many will only make it to the live showing of the New York ball drop and then go to sleep at whatever time that is locally (and yes I have some California friends who have done that, no judgment here). We’ll sing a son we don’t really understand based upon a Scottish drinking poem about the good old days, itself based upon an older poem that you probably need an advance degree in Celtic to understand.
Then we will go to bed (or if you are young and without kids, will stay up for a few hours before going to bed), and wake up to a new year. A new year, one of promise and hope. We will make resolutions (most of which will be broken) and frantically try to find that can of black eyed peas or cabbage or whatnot. It is good to mark of the years with some sort of celebration, I think. It is good to take stock of what has happened, to thank God for the year behind and commit to him the year ahead. It offers up goals and markers and commitments and can make our lives easier.
Yet, as a baptist, I am reminded of the reason we don’t strictly follow the liturgical calendar. While it is still Christmas for most Christians, baptists don’t have a “season” for most days. There is one exception. Resurrection Sunday (or Easter). For Baptists, not only do we celebrate every Sunday as a commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (as do most Christians), but we live perpetually in the season of Easter. We don’t have a Lenten period of mourning (though some of us may opt to practice aspects of it from time to time), and while we are always waiting for the return of Christ, we don’t have the anticipatory Advent season. It is perpetually Easter. Easter changed everything. Christ has already come. God already dwells with man. God has turned our mourning into laughing.
Living in the light of the Easter morning also means we don’t wait for one day a year to start over. It also doesn’t mean we lost that chance at our first slip up. Living in the light of the Resurrected Christ means that his mercies are new everyday. A line that used to be popular in the adult baptisms of baptists (but is being fazed out, it seems, as too archaic) is that we are “buried with Christ in baptism, and raised [with him] to walk in the newness of life.” It’s not just new the one time, it is continually new, perpetually being renewed, rescued, redeemed and transformed. New Year’s day is a date on the calendar that comes every year, but doesn’t really change anything. The new life of the Christian is based upon a Resurrection that happened once in history for all time, and changed everything, and can change everyone, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Every day we are made new and raised to life again with him. Day by day, moment by moment.