The clock promptly stuck 12 o’clock midnight and we all wished everyone a Happy New Year! The old man 2014 has passed and the new baby 2015 is born. Everyone’s slate is wiped clean and we start our year off with resolutions of riding ourselves of old habits. That certainly is a great cause for celebration with noise makers, confetti, family, friends, games, hats and midnight kisses. However, this isn’t how everyone brings in a New Year.
During Christmas, I was participating in a Pentateuch class. At first, this seemed like odd timing. It would make more sense to study the Gospels during December, right? Well, actually, a lot came out of studying the beginning of the Old Testament in class while celebrating the beginning of the New Testament in my daily life. I was able to see a lot of interesting parallels and see things differently than I had before when I saw Christmas trees and stockings hung by a fireplace. The one thing that stood out in my mind was Passover, known to the Jewish world as Pesach.
The Jewish calendar is different than our American/secular calendar. Nissan is the first month of their year and it coincides with our March and April. The first celebration Jewish people take part in is Passover. The Jewish New Year starts off with remembering instead of Christians who start their New Year off with a new slate.
Their celebration starts by throwing away and getting rid of all the yeast in the home. Some families may even have a special cookware to use this time of year that has never touched yeast and is kept separate from the cookware they use the rest of the year with yeast. The lack of yeast was first, to remember in what haste the Israelites had to leave Egypt, and secondly, yeast is often a metaphor of sin and evil in The Bible. The first night is the Passover meal or Passover Seder, and as a total of seven days the Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated. This is a time where older generations tell younger generations the stories of the exodus. How the Jewish people were oppressed by the Egyptians in slavery and how God sent Moses to free the Israelites. How there were plagues that took place because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. And how the last plague, the plague of death to kill the first born son, passed over the houses that had a lamb’s blood placed on the doorframe. A New Year means a time of remembering deliverance.
As a result, this Christmas, as I drove for work every night, I found myself listening to the Soundtrack to the cartoon movie, “Prince Of Egypt” and particularly the first song, Deliver Us, instead of your traditional Christmas music. Interestingly enough, I started to see some parallels between Moses’ birth and Jesus’ birth. Both births were rescued from death. Both births were of boys. Both boys grew to be great prophets. Both boys would grow to bring deliverance to people. I thought of the 400 years the Israelites were enslaved, and I thought of the 400 years of silence, and how both time periods could very well be a time of calling out for a deliverer to set people free. I thought of how even now, we call for Christ’s return to deliver us from sin and sickness in this world. Ironically, this became a profound and yet odd Christmas Carol for me this year.
So, as we enter 2015, may our minds not only be set on resolutions or a clean slate, but also a place where we remember what God has done in the past (our personal pasts as well as Bible stories and Church history), what God will do someday when He comes again and creates a New Heaven and a New Earth, while we sit in the present and minister and witness to those we meet in our everyday lives.
Happy last year and happy new year!