New Year’s Day is the most global of all holidays. Sydney, Australia began today’s festivities with seven tons of fireworks that cost $6.9 million. Hong Kong spent $1.6 million on fireworks over Victoria Harbor. Some 75,000 participated in Edinburgh, Scotland’s Hogmanay (year-end) celebrations. In Athens, fireworks over the Acropolis displayed the juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary culture.
Many of us will make New Year’s resolutions to begin 2013. We’re not the first—the ancient Babylonians apparently invented the custom. Their most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. I’ll make the same resolution for this year—if I’ve borrowed your plow, please let me know.
The problem is, 78 percent of us will fail to keep whatever resolutions we make. According to one psychologist, the key to keeping them is to find a new energy source and a new strategy. Commitment isn’t enough, he says. If you want to get healthier, for instance, you need to connect with people who are doing what you want to do. And you need to create a strategy for health, with short-term goals like increased exercise and a plan to improve your diet.
I agree: to make a new start, we need a new source and a new strategy. Where should we find them? Consider Pope Benedict XVI’s advice. The pontiff celebrated New Year’s Eve with a Vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he reminded the congregation that taking time for prolonged reflection and prayer can help “find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life.”
In Mark 1 we find Jesus early in his public ministry. After preaching in the synagogue, exorcising a demon, healing Peter’s mother-in-law, then healing the sick in the community, what would he do next? Verse 35 tells us: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” By beginning his morning with his Father, he gained the power and perspective he needed to fulfill the divine plan for his day and life.
Our culture applauds self-sufficiency, but how’s that working for us? Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing while expecting a different result. If I could require every Christian to make one resolution this year, it would be to begin every day as Jesus began his, starting today.
If he needed this daily appointment with his Father, do you?