Happy New Year!
“Besides this, you know what time it is,
how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers;
the night is far gone; the day is near.
Let us then lay aside the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.”
Someone asked me, “Does Korea have a New Year’s Day like we keep the first day of a new year?” “According to the Chines calendar,” I said, “Yes, we have a different new year’s day. It is a big holiday in Korea. The Korean new year’s day will be in February.” I do not know when it is a New Year’s in Korea on our calendar precisely because I cannot track the Chinese calendar. It is true that Korean still keeps the Chinese calendar for historical holidays and their birthdays even though most of the younger generation doesn’t know about the Chinese calendar. It is challenging for me to figure out when my family’s birthdays and Korean holidays are because they still keep them according to the Chinese calendar. And then, my younger sister notifies me of every family event or family birthday before those days came. If I were in Korea, I might know how to figure out the Chinese calendar like my family does. Perhaps, because of that, I feel a New Year’s “limbo.” I mean that my New Year’s is not the first day of a New Year, or the day Koreans keep a New Year. It made me not one for New Year’s Eve parties. When many were enjoying New Year’s Eve parties, I used to go to bed early.
However, I do have time to review the former year and plan for the coming year. Like many of us, I look to New Year’s as a time to start over, expecting that ‘this year is going to be better.’ But when we try to do it all in one day in the midst of a frantic holiday season, we wake up still lost and disoriented, having given up on our resolutions by the end of the week. Instead of a single day, we need a season. It is Advent season. My New Year begins with Advent because it takes time for reorientation, such as preparing, repenting, and waking up to all that Christmas morning aspires to be. Advent is not a season to get lost in earthly celebration, but to be found in what God has done, is doing, and will do through Jesus Christ in a disoriented world.
Advent is New Year’s for the church, which means the first season in the Christian calendar. Advent means “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” The word “Advent” is from “Adventus” in Latin, and it is translated to “Parousia” in Greek, which means “coming” or “arriving at.” Advent in the Christian calendar means “the season that is waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ.” For Christians, it marks the celebration of the arrival of Jesus Christ, but not in the ways we often think of amid mistletoe and holly.
In the Christian calendar, the end is the beginning. Before we celebrate Jesus’ silent-night first arrival in the manger, we prepare for his trumpet-blasting second coming in the clouds. He will come back and bring history to a close. We don’t need to be afraid because his return is a good thing, as we will see this season. The earth has completed another trek around the sun, finishing its four seasons and preparing to make another orbit.
In this season of Advent, let us think about where we are. Let us find ourselves where we are. God created humanity in his image, but we turned away in fear and rebellion, and all of creation still suffers. When we look at the world today, we see this isn’t the way it was supposed to be. There are disasters, illness, mass violence and shootings, sexual assault, terrorism, wars, poverty, anxiety, depression, addiction, etc.
But, remember, in the beginning, earth was good, and that’s what Advent is about, such a final stage of the new mission God began after humanity fell. We get that Jesus was born, crucified, and is risen, but we often lose sight that he is also enthroned in heaven, interceding for the world, and will one day return to make all things new again. So, we, Christians, are in the center of waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ, not a baby in a manger, but the savior of the world. Advent allows us to pause and take inventory to start with the end in mind and see if our lives look like our beliefs and prayers so that Jesus’ kingdom can come on earth as it is in heaven. Christ was born; Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again. Let us have a happy new year, waiting for our Lord! Let us move forward, expecting how God works for us in a New Year. Happy New Year! Blessings!
Pastor Jenny Lee