What’s your ideal New Year’s Eve? For some it’s a party with friends. Others prefer dinner and dancing or maybe a movie. Still others like a quiet evening at home.
Through the years I’ve spent that evening in several different ways. But in the past four years I’ve found something that’s become an important part of the season, a thoughtful and meaningful way for me to start another year. If you’re into partying, this may not be for New Year’s Eve. But you might adapt some portion of it for use anytime in January.
A couple who are dear friends of mine and I developed a ritual we call “A Blessing for New Year’s Eve.” We spend the evening and overnight at their home or mine. We share a special dinner, preparing it together, savoring the wonderful expanse of time stretched before us. Good friends, good conversation, good food, good wine—what blessings.
For our blessing ritual, we begin with a prayer of thanks for the year ending, its moments of growth and transformation, its joys and also its pain and sorrow. We pray for guidance and wisdom for the coming year. We use Scripture verses and litanies that invite deeper awareness of God’s presence in our lives. We each reflect and share, taking as much time as we want or need, using these questions for the year just ending:
• Give a name to your past year’s journey and describe it.
• What were some of your epiphanies this past year?
• Name one blessing, one disappointment and one way you grew. We reflect on these questions for the new year:
• What name would you like for next year’s journey?
• What hope and/or what fear do you have for this year?
• What gifts do you bring with you? What resistance?
• Who do you bring with you for support and strength?
We close our evening with a blessing for each other and with prayer. By then It’s usually well after midnight. Restful sleep followed by a special breakfast begins a whole new year—one in which we seem more intentional and in which the three of us are more aware of the ways God is active in our lives and the world.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers