I do apologise for this column being posted rather late in the day. The reason is that Tuesday has become a day in which I am particularly involved in leading some prayer in the church throughout the month of January. The church in which I worship has set aside the whole of the month for prayer and cancelled all its normal midweek meetings so that people may engage specifically in prayer. I have been leading a series of sessions called “Praying for the World”.
Well, the New Year has come! We have welcomed it in, largely with food, fizz and fireworks, and offered good wishes.
January 1st is, however, very much a rootless occasion. That is to say it is not grounded on any substantial event or memory. The date has no inherent message. Christmas is rather different since Christmas is rooted in the celebration of the birth of the Son of God and the offer of human salvation. The Jewish New Year as it is presented in the Old Testament is also full of meaning. The first month of the Jewish calendar (Abib) was set aside by God to mark the deliverance of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt and it included the Feast of Passover. Thus for the Jew the New Year was a memorial of deliverance, of a new freedom and of an assurance that God was their God and would be with them. It spoke of hope.