It’s curious how time itself is celebrated each new year. We often observe moments in time and hallmark them as memories, the birth of a child or a particular tradition, for example. But time is never more centrally celebrated–worldwide–than during New Year’s Eve and Day. A more modern Christian celebration embraces the passing of one year into the next by observing a watch night service, something made popular by John Wesley in the 1740s. It’s purpose is to prepare the Christian for the new year, to dedicate it to the Gospel, as well as review how God has worked throughout the past calendar year.
It’s true that New Year’s Eve and Day are secular, often giving a hope for personal improvement for the days ahead. Though not altogether bad, we know as Christians our resolution is found in Christ alone. His strength is perfect when ours is not.
A Year with C.S. Lewis provides a New Year’s charge of sorts in our January 1 reading. It asks, what if we really found Him? Lewis references the excitement and fear when children who are pretending to be burglars all of a sudden hear real footsteps from a real burglar. Or, the academic who hunts for God and ends up finding Him. “We never meant it to come to that!” exclaims Lewis. “Worse still, supposing He had found us?”
Lewis says that a “formless life-force” or a “God of beauty” inside us is a lot easier to bear because it puts us in the center of our wants. “But God Himself,” he says, “alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband–that is quite another matter.” Lewis suggests that God finding us is a matter that demands a decision, either one of denial or submission.
This new year, let us be challenged by the living God who finds us so we might be in right relationship with Him in time so we might be with Him in eternity.