Just a few days ago, many of us wished each other a “Happy New Year!” as midnight of Dec. 31 lapsed into the first moments of Jan. 1, the start of a new year.
You might have watched or heard fireworks, or, if you have become a bit saner, you might have watched on TV or on the web the fireworks displays in Sydney, Australia. The stroke of midnight occurs there at a time when it is still morning here – 8 a.m.
By 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Bluffton, one could have enjoyed the shows from Paris, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasilia, and still be tucked in safely long before our midnight. Who needs to be on Highway 278 in the wee hours?
Not all in the world celebrate New Year’s Day on Jan. 1. Other faiths and cultures celebrate at different times. Jewish communities will celebrate their New Year, Rosh Hashanah, on Sept. 9 at sundown through nightfall on Sept. 11, 2018.
Our Muslim sisters and brothers will observe Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, on the first day of the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar. In 2018, this observance will fall on Sept. 10 at sundown.
In contrast, the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day can fall anytime between Jan. 21 to Feb. 21.
No matter what, most cultures celebrate the end of something and a new beginning.
In my family tradition, on the stroke of 12, we opened both the front door and the back door of our home, wore silly hats, blew ridiculous cheap noise-makers, shouted “Happy New Year,” and hoped that the old would be out and the new would be in.
Nonetheless, there is a lingering question. It’s a good time to ask, seriously, what “new” do we want?
It is hard to imagine that any one of us did not have some experiences in 2017 that we wished had not been better, more fun, more profitable or less stressful. If 2017 was perfect for you and your loved ones on every level – physical, emotional, existential, physiological and spiritual – then that is great news!
But, for the remainder of us, sisters and brothers, we hope for a better New Year, no matter how we mark the calendar.
Where, then, is the hope that some religious observance or calendar event, or the opening of front and back doors, will somehow fix our sorrows, wounds and hurts, and start something new?
Realistically, such approaches, without personal change, won’t fix anything.
For Christians, our hope is founded on faith in Jesus Christ. Many others have a different horizon. Whoever you are and whatever you might believe, I suggest that a common denominator among us all could be that our personal New Year should begin with a commitment to love one another.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Why not?
Happy New Year!
Joe Crowley is director of adult discipleship at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. firstname.lastname@example.org