Like the ebb and flow of life, we enter another year and, according to some, another decade. It seems like I just got used to writing 2010 and now it is time to retrain my brain to write 2011. For those into college football, the celebration of a new year does not get any better than today with six bowl games on television.
Many African-American churches ushered in the New Year by having Watch Night Services. Praise and worship services began in late evening and ended with prayer at midnight. Some churches followed worship with a midnight buffet, music and dancing. The party goes on until the wee hours of the morning.
We are blessed to see a new year. Some of us are here despite our poor self-care and behavior in the world. We made it to 2011 purely by grace.
Others behaved better and made better choices, yet did not live to see this New Year. While we will miss our loved ones dearly, we can honor their memory by living well and by speaking their names.
As we take time to reflect on this New Year, there may be some things we need to let go of before we get too far into 2011. Mistakes and bad decisions can haunt us unnecessarily for years. Once we have made restitution and asked for forgiveness, it is time to let it go. Reliving mistakes over and over will not change the past. We can learn from our poor choices and resolve to do differently if placed in a similar situation. Forgiving ourselves can be tough, but it is essential to becoming a better person.
Foreclosures, unemployment and severe cuts in governmental and social services did not make 2010 a very good year for many families. To those unemployed or underemployed, we pray 2011 brings full employment and full pantries. Those living on the edge of survival have been there too long. Hopefully 2011 will be a year of plenty.
For those of us on vacation and school break, it is back to our routines Monday. What can we do in this New Year to make it better than last? While stopping global warming may be a bit ambitious for Jan. 3, we can take small steps to remake ourselves. Offering a pleasant good morning to those you work with may be the beginning of your personal makeover. Taking out the garbage, washing dishes or picking up your laundry without being asked can be your contribution toward better family dynamics.
Of course, there are those perennial New Year's resolutions. Maybe this year you really will lose those 20 pounds, quit smoking or exercise three times a week.
Resolutions are great. At least we give some thought to what will improve our lives and the world around us. Even if our resolve lasts only a week, that is better than not trying at all. Maybe this year your self-control and determination to be and do better will last at least a month.
As we ponder what this year will bring, we can dream big. Maybe this will be the year for world peace. We can pray that leaders around the globe will stop using theology and the name of God as an excuse to abuse power and act violently toward others. We pray that the love of God inspires us to live justly and honor creation and the divinity in us all.
Enjoy this new day and New Year. We have a clean slate before us and we can make choices about our direction and our destiny.
If we seek God's wisdom, the journey will be filled with peace, joy and purpose.