As the Christmas season rolls on we have reached the great countdown towards 2016, some people have been planning their party for weeks, months even and are looking forward to a night of fun and friends. Others like me will be spending the time alone, some by choice, for those for whom this is not I choice I will light a candle this evening, a symbol of light in the darkness, a frail but sure beacon of hope for a troubled world and troubled souls, maybe you can do the same.
I have never been sure about New Year celebrations, they seem to put such weight on the turning of time from one year to another, and so much hope is invested on the turning of a calander page from 2015 to 2016 in this case. As a child it was an adult celebration, we would be tucked up in bed while the adults went out, I was brought up in the ex-pat and international community of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which had its own strange customs and conventions one of which was very much that children had their place, and that was not at grown up parties!
As a teenager I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Essex and was unable on th whole to go to friends parties, but to be honest I have always been an introvert and have found big celebrations difficult and taxing. I do have some memories of being part of a community from staying with friends in Northumberland where the whole town of Allendale would turn out to celebrate with Guisers carring burning tar barrels and a bonfire to welcome the New Year in. Those are probably my best New Year memories, being a part of something with no particular expectations being put upon me!
Other Community memories are of a couple of Watch Night Services in Downham Market, Norfolk, something I had not experienced before, but that touched and challenged me, sadly I have not been able to persuade any church communities to join me like that since. I wonder how it is that we have lost such a tradition in Methodism for the most part, but then as it was never my tradition I am not really able to comment. Perhaps being a “convert” ( to Christianity and Methodism) as an adult gives me a different perspective.
I am, as I have already said, choosing to spend this evening alone, but not because I am being miserable, but because I actually don’t want to go out and am finally content with my own company. I am grateful for Nadia Boltz-Webber’s words posted on Facebook today:
“My yearly reminder: There is no resolution that, if kept, will make me more worthy to be loved.”
There is no resolution that, if kept will make me more worthy to be loved, there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, I am already loved fully and completely, if I do not know that, and it does not humble me in the right way then I am lost, not to God but to myself. I have spent too long being lost to myself, not accepting myself as I am and therefore not allowing the wonder of God’s love to be at work within me. To do so requires me to own my darkness and my shadows and not to hide from them, and then to allow the unconditional love of God in Christ to come into my shadowed heart and soul and transform me.
This evening then as the clock and calander turn from one year into the next I will light a candle and pray, I will pray for the light of life to fill the darkness of the world, including my own, and I will turn my face to the one who loves me completely using the most releasing words I know:
I am no longer my own but yours….
This I do know, there is an unquenched longing deep within me that only God can fill, and while I might sip a glass of wine and enjoy a take-away and a film this evening instead of going to a party I am not sad, I am not lost, I am simply being me, and that is OK!