Every culture and every faith has some way of marking the end of the old and beginning of the New Year. And these different cultures and faiths observe this annual passage at different times.
We have become accustomed to celebrating the arrival of the New Year at the stroke of midnight on December 31st. The Ball drops at Times Square, the champagne flows, and with a kiss for luck a new year begins.
Except, for us as Christians, a new year has already begun on the First Sunday of Advent. In the Christian faith the New Year begins with that peculiar combination of longing and anticipation we know as hope. Something like New Year’s Resolutions are included because Advent, like Lent, is a season for reflection and repentance.
Advent represents a decisive ending, not with a bang but with a whisper*, a whisper that something truly new is in the air. Advent leans forward, with expectation for a better world, not just a better year.
When we wish one another a hopeful Advent, we’re really saying Happy New Year.
So Happy New Year!
*(apologies to T. S. Eliot for changing his famous line)