Happy New Year (Ros' Blog)
The Israelites of the Old Testament certainly knew how to celebrate festivals in style. From the festivals of Passover and First Fruits in the month of Nisan, the start of the liturgical year, through the feasts of Pentecost and Tabernacles (think family camping adventure) and all the rest of the seven appointed feasts, there were traditions of celebration and joy that accompanied all of them except that the feast of Atonement tended to be a more solemn affair.
The civil New Year fell at the start of the seventh month, Tishri and was marked by the Feast of Trumpets. (This is not as strange as it sounds; our civil year starts in January, but our financial year starts in April and our academic year in September.) The Feast of Trumpets was a time to down-tools and rest from work, to make offerings to the Lord of bulls, rams, lambs, grain and oil, and to gather together in a sacred assembly to sound trumpets, before going home as families to feast together.
I don’t know how you celebrated the New Year this time around. I’m guessing there may not have been too many trumpets involved! At my church we met to share communion quietly together in the early part of the evening, while those with the stamina went on and partied into the small hours. A New Year is always a good time to take stock, to draw a line under the past and to take a deep breath as we face the coming year.
It may be that in 2016 you acquired a disability for the first time. Perhaps your condition worsened or you had health battles. Maybe you lost a loved one. Perhaps you are clawing your way back to health and experienced some significant milestones along the way in 2016. Whatever the last year held for you, whether easy or painful, it has come to an end. 2017 stretches out before you like a blank canvas. The only certainty is the presence of God with you in it all.
For Through the Roof, 2017 is a special year, as it marks our 20th anniversary. We can look back in thankfulness to all that God has achieved during our twenty years of existence. And we will be holding a thanksgiving service at St George’s church, Ashtead on September 9th – save the date! We will also be inviting you to hold anniversary celebrations throughout the year, and providing you with a kit containing all you need to do that – look out for more information on that over the next few weeks. But we don’t want our expectations for the future to be limited by what we have seen God do in the past. Who knows where He may want to take us next?
I love the words of God in Isaiah 43 to His people as they contemplated the future: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43.18-19) So, in whatever condition you ended the last year, close the door on it and turn towards the coming year, confident that whatever it holds, God will use it in your life to make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. And if you can herald it by blowing a few trumpets, so much the better!
Image is Blowing the Trumpet at the Feast of the New Moon, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible