When I lived in England I did not understand the New Year at all. As a ex-pat Scot who was reared in England and now lives in Scotland I am still not sure I wholly get it. Maybe the version I have is all my own, but as it is precious to me, I cling to it.
It falls in what is the (liturgical) Christmas season, yet it has a very different atmosphere. Christmas (to me) is pure magic. Not the kind which works against the world, but the kind which works with it. The magic deep down the fibres of life. The kind which makes you draw a breath of wonder at each tiny baby, and stare with astonishment at the beauty of a new born gripping a finger. Not because it cannot be explained, but because the explanation takes you to deep quiet places. Its best services are full of silence and and quiet embraces.
Christmas is arrived at after frantic hard work, and in a state of tiredness, an an increasing sense that there is no tie at all, and yet comes to a moment of utter stillness. A moment to enfold your beloved ones.
The New Year is about another kind of silence. The time to reflect on what is lost and why some of it is well lost. A time to look to plans and hopes with a heart which suddenly thinks that there is a whole year to get there, and time to rejoice and dawdle on the way.
We do rejoice and dawdle. We catch up with old friends. We even make new ones. Our plans are extravagant, all-embracing. New Year spills out past Christmas and into Epiphany, when we are able at last to party for the new born and show him off to everybody. The Scots are still wishing people a happy new year well into January, and the church by then is remembering just how that baby set aobut transforming the world.
And we need the hope and the resolutions, even if we only half believe in either, for they hurl us forward into our own new efforts at transformations. Happy New Year, everybody. Believe you can change your own lives and the lives around you. You need all the faith you can muster for the New Year.