Last Thursday after putting Atticus down for the night Alyssa and I went out to celebrate the new year with some old friends. Save a couple, I’ve celebrated almost every New Year of my adult life with the same old acquaintances. One memorable party included a 45 minute jazz rendition of Auld Lang Syne. I enjoy the party aspect of New Years Eve but like most things it’s a mixed bag for me.
On one hand: New Year, New Me. Right? Me 2.0 – Just Like the Old Me but Better.
The lead up to a new year is loaded with so much potential. How exciting! We dream in iridescent technicolor of what will be. How exciting! Our imaginations play with plans for the coming year. How exciting! The least creative of us have no trouble making art of an unlived new year. How exciting!
This will be the year I loose that weight; or, that I finally start using a dayplanner; or, go to the gym; or, read more books; or, whatever. This year I will be kinder to myself, this year I will yell at my kids less, this year I will be betterstrongerfaster.
The guy who says, “Vanity of Vanities! All is Vainity! Eat! Drink! Be Merry! For Tomorrow We Die!” is a drag and drinks alone in the corner. He’s not helpful, we don’t need him. “Keep on Keeping On” isn’t good enough. Not growing is dying so lets get on with the living. On your marks, get set, GOALS!
New Year, New Me. Just Like the Old Me but Better.
On the other hand though: Doesn’t that just sound exhausting? Resolutions by their nature suggest that something ain’t right.
To effectively set goals and resolutions for a new year one needs to first reflect on the previous year with its highs and lows. Bummer. The good we did wasn’t satisfactory – so we’ll do more, and the good didn’t outweigh the bad, mediocre, or forgettable – so we’ll do better.
This desire for change and improvement is a good and right desire. It’s what God does – what is last will be first, what is small will be great, what is old will be new, what is dark will be lit, what is dead will live. But on New Year’s Eve I forget that’s what God does. So, in a fit of retrospection and novelty I decide to rebuild the foundations of the House of Me with the original rotting lumber.
And everybody is in on the joke.
On the last day of 2015 my Twitter feed was flooded with variations on a theme, my favorite: “Try again in 2017. – Sincerely, 2016”. I chuckled as I ate a sleeve of Oreos while lounging on the couch scrolling through Twitter and thinking about how I’m going to lose all that weight.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Jesus is calling, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” God gives rest to those of us who are weary and wearier from our DIY efforts. Thirsty from working in the sun? Here, he offers a cup of kindness yet. He’s got this one covered so why don’t you just go ahead and take a nap.
Eat! Drink! Be Merry! Happy New Year!
Seriously, if you skipped over watching that video stop reading. Go back. Watch that video. I’ll still be here when you’re done. Pinky promise.
Did you watch it?
Now watch it again. There’s some interesting visual cues which I think really enrich the already diabetically rich new lyrics for that old familliar melody. Make it an anthem while the Year is still fresh.
In the first service I played a mash up of Auld Lang Syne/Amazing Grace during prayer partners as if to say there is grace in our striving. And in the second service we sang the new lyrics during communion – reminding us that the cup of kindness offered is the very blood of Jesus.
Blessed are the ones who were at both services, I guess.
The rest of the tunes we sang this past week were:
- Unstoppable God by Elevation Worship
- This Is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham
- God is Able by Hillsong
- You Are My King by Billy J. Foote (Popular recordings by Chris Tomlin, Newsboys)
- All Glory Be To Christ (Auld Lang Syne) lyrics by Dustin Kensrue, arrangement by Kings Kaleidoscope
Here’s a Spotify playlist of the tunes we sang. But, do yourself a favor and go buy all the music all these artists have recorded.