Christmas is a time of remembrance. The season guides us to reminisce about the joys and sorrows of years past, our days filled with favorite movies, thoughts of cherished loved ones and stories of old, all swiftly swirling around an ancient story of a baby born in Bethlehem on a silent night. Those defining moments of past bring us clarity and comfort. But while the Christmas lights still glow from rooftops and town squares, the calendar marches on to the 26th, then the 27th, then the 28th until we find ourselves shifting gears, moving in a new direction at a different pace.
We leave behind that time of year where our eyes are focused pointedly on the past, and lift our gaze towards the uncertain promise of what is ahead. The familiar sounds and surroundings of Christmas Past give way to the brimming but uncertain blurriness of Future.
The Last Week of the Year, those precious days nestled between Past and Future, are strikingly Present, and allow us that rare opportunity to breathe in the air that is no longer 2015, but not just yet 2016.
For most of us, 2015 has been filled with turmoil. It has been a year of change and disillusionment, and our news feeds have been filled with heated opinions of red cups at coffee shops and Cecil the Lion.
Which makes me realize we spend so much of our precious time on things that ultimately don’t matter.
We argue about trivialities until we lose focus and are spread thin.
We become frazzled, angry, ineffective and discouraged.
We go to bed at night realizing that we are somehow missing out on the things that matter and waking up in the morning overwhelmed before we even start the day.
Our news feeds aren’t going away, and there will be plenty to distract and deter us in the New Year. With the promise of what is new, there certainly will be old struggles that follow us in the journey. But as the lights come down and the world continues on at a new pace, the promise of hope we spoke of at Christmas still remains in January.
The last week of the year gives us a moment to prepare for what is coming. These last few days where Christmas seems a distant memory give us an opportunity to pray, plan, and prepare.
These days give us opportunity to not only make meaningful resolutions that will carry us into a new day, but to make a renewed commitment to lay our burdens down and entrust our days to our Father in Heaven.
It gives us a clear opportunity to “Be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you are not to turn aside to the right or the left.” (Proverbs 5:32).
Fighting off the ever-present tendency to be distracted and tossed about by whatever the world is throwing at us, 2016 can truly be a new start, a year of reinvention, determined focus, and change for the better.
Certainly there is nothing magical about the flip of the calendar, but it represents a clean break, a new hope, and a blank canvas.
May the Last Week of the Year be a defining moment that refocuses our energies and clears all that is peripheral until what remains is what matters.
May this year be the year that our hearts and minds are filled with wisdom instead of rashness, patience instead of impulse, and forgiveness instead of bitterness.
We can do it if we use this last week of the year to get a head start.
At least that’s the way I see it.