Ringing In The New Year

Well by the time you read this, we will be in the new year of 2009. If you "welcomed" or marked the new year, how did you do it? For some reason I am in a nostalgic mood this new years, and reflected on the many different ways that there are to to mark the new year ... or not, depending on what "floats your boat" as they say.

There are those who focus on what the new year will bring, and engage in all sorts of speculation and predictions. These range from the philosophical to the superstituous. An ethnic newspaper article that I read recently describes the old world practice of "divining" by lead. Pieces of lead are molten, and then poured into cold water, where the lead turns into all sorts of shapes, which supposedly can be interpreted to tell the future, or fortune, or lack thereof. That is only one of a myriad of superstitions available.

Then there is the "religious" way of observing New Years, although there really is no liturgical, or even biblical basis for that. I remember the New Years Eve services of my childhood and youth. They were called "Watch Night" services, for they began around 9:00 PM on New Years Eve, and went to past midnight, usually with a break for refreshments. In the church of my childhood, baptisms were held on New Years Eve whenever there were candidates available, and I myself, as 10 year old lad was baptized along with 11 others in such a nocturnal "watch night" service. Early in my ministry, in two of my churches, I conducted such New Years Eve baptisms.

When I moved out west to Alberta, I found that the the Watchnight Services were even longer, beginning at 8:00 PM and going till after midnight. And then, as if that wasn't enough, there was yet another "service" on New Years Day. In Calgary, the custom was to darken the sanctuary except for the lights of the Christmas tree at about 10 minutes before midnight, and we formed a huge ring around the periphery of the sanctuary and held hands for prayer over the midnight. But on my first New Years at that church, I was not prepared for what happened next: after 12 midnite, everyone, and I mean everyone, in the congregation began hugging and kissing and wishing each other a happy New Year. On that first New Year in Alberta I could think of only one thing: what is the shortest route to my car!! Hugging (and being kissed)by people whom I barely knew except for Sundays, was a little too much for this Easterner.

In one church that I pastored, the local custom was to literally welcome the new year on our knees. As the midnight hour approached, the congregation knelt for prayer, and at the stroke of midnight we prayed the Lord's Prayer together, so that everyone could claim to have crossed the threshold into the New Year by praying. The custom died out as people got older and found it more difficult to stay up that late.

Indeed, in the church that I presently am the pastor of, we have a 2 hour event held early in the evening of New Years Eve. It begins with a meal, continues with an audio visual presentation of the "year in review" and concludes with an informal time where folks can reflect by testimonials on the memories of the year past, or hopes of the coming year. We conclude with a time of prayer, and people are then dismissed. Having it early in the evening makes it family friendly, and concluding it earlier rather than later gives people the option of observing the midnight hour according to their preference. Many of our families gather in homes for some type of party.

In the early memories of my childhood, I remember that many of the prayers on New Years Eve included gratitude for not having to observe new years "the way the world does it". I.e. by partying. So my comfort level was tested in one church that I was at, where there was NO New Years Eve service...and indeed "partying" (without any praying, or drawing of Scripture promise cards) was the norm. However, now that I reflect on the lack of liturgical basis or Scripture mandate for the way to celebrate New Years, I don't think it matters much whether you observe the passing of one year to the next in a church or in New York Times Square, or in the comfort of your bed. (This year I watched the countdown and fireworks in Niagara Falls from the comfort of my living room. If you think that was wrong, then you can pray for me). What matters, I think, is that we remain thankful that God has been good to us for another year, much more than we deserve. And that we remain dependent on Him in the coming year. He is faithful, a God "of the ages", even when we have not been faithful. And to those, who put their trust in Him, He will reveal Himself in powerful and mighty ways in the coming year. And one more thing: in this coming year, the sun will rise over the righteous and the unrighteous as always. But still, I wish you the very best of health, happiness, and God's richest blessings in this coming new year.

1 Kommentar 19.5.09 08:40, kommentieren


My Mind: Lifesized: Deep Freeze

This morning it was -8 degrees (-22 Celsius) here in Missoula, which was nothing compared to the -30 in Butte and the -47 in West Yellowstone; in short Montana has been hit by a deep winter freeze. Despite the fact that it is too cold to enjoy many things outdoors, the sun is shining brightly into my kitchen window and I am enjoying looking out and over the house behind us into the Sapphire Mountains looming nearby.

I converted my old blog to the new Blogger platform yesterday, changing the layout in the process. during the conversion I was looking at some statistics and saw just how sharply the number of posts I make has dropped off, from almost daily to not even monthly anymore...so I'll add that to my list of resolutions for the new year...that I will once again start posting regularly.

I thought I'd start by posting some of the highlights of my crazy 2006:

In 2006 I got almost 35 days of snowboarding in, including my first out of bounds experience. I enjoyed another season pass at Snowbowl and took my annual 4 day trip to Montana's answer to aspen, Big Sky.
In April I discovered my girlfriend and I were expecting. Lots of complicating circumstances, lots of anxiety but an overall feeling of joy and obligation ensued.
For the 4th year, I ran the Missoula ultimate leagues and we once again had a record number of players.
I traveled to Salt Lake in May for a men's Ultimate tournament, I hadn't played Open in a while, so it was fun and surprisingly I played decent enough to decide on playing another season.
I started training hard for the club Ultimate season in early June, only to be sidelined by an emergency Appendectomy. Despite this, I made the trip to Calgary with the Missoula team, where we finished 3rd. I also attended tourneys in Portland, Bozeman and Boise, all the while trying to grow my relationship with my girlfriend (as her belly was also growing).
In September our Ultimate team won the ID, UT, WY, MT section in Idaho Falls and qualified for the regional championships, where we then qualified for the national championships (as previously posted).
My girlfriend and I bought a home together in October.
On November 17, 2006 at about 6:00 PM, I proposed and she accepted...an hour later she went into labor.
On November 18 (as previously posted) our son, Liam John Hays O'Connor was born...the first non-Hoosier O'Connor (from our clan anyway) since the late 1800's.
We hosted Thanksgiving for much of my family.
Liam got to visit Indiana over Christmas and we spent New Year's eve in a hot tub down the Bitterroot Valley watching fireworks go off under a cloudless, star-filled cold, cold sky.

Not a bad year.

Being a Dad, at this stage in life, and in the manner I did it, has some unique challenges. I must admit sometimes I feel like I am not myself, rather I am a zombie going through the motions of work, changing diapers, getting up 4-5 times a night and doing it all over again. But as all of you parents out there already know, one smile from Liam or observing him interact with his Mom or siblings, and every other care in the world melts away. It's a feeling I've been waiting for a long time to have and it makes up for all the "stuff" I am missing, like snowbaording, hanging out with my friends and teammates, working out, vegging out and spending time writing letters and emails.

Happy New Year.

1 Kommentar 19.5.09 08:40, kommentieren

The Little Tingeys on the Prairie: The Arctic Tingeys!

It's been a while since my last blog update as we have been away in Calgary for three weeks, (which was great!) but frustratingly we did not have Internet access. So there is a lot to catch up on; Nick (my sister) and Stu's visit, Calgary, Christmas

1 Kommentar 19.5.09 08:40, kommentieren