Tonight people will be partying. In the island state of Samoa the New Year will come a day earlier than it did last year because they have decided to switch to the other side of the International Date Line in order to be in line with their trading partners in Australasia. They are going into 2012 with a sense of hope and optimism that this one small change will fuel economic growth. Their weekends will now coincide with other nations in the region which means there will be more time for business activities between Samoa and other countries. It’s a clever little trick.
Many other people around the world will also be starting the New Year thinking about economics. They will be concerned about how long their jobs will last, if they will be able to pay the post-Christmas bills and whether or not they can maintain their living standards.
But for one night they will party, trying to send their anxieties to oblivion and attempting to be optimistic about the future - surely 2012 has to be better than 2011.
I used to belong to a church which every year held a New Year’s Eve party. It was full of fun and games and the whole church family joined in. Two things separated it from the kind of parties going on elsewhere. The first was a lack of alcohol. The second was that, at the stroke of midnight, we prayed and gave thanks to God. We started the year with Jesus.
There was none of the flamboyant frothiness and wishful thinking that somehow chiming in a New Year was going to change everything. Instead there was a sense of gratitude that whatever we’d been through in the past twelve months Jesus had walked with us through it, and the certainty that whatever we would face in the coming year He would always be at our side.
As 2012 begins I pray that you will know the love of Jesus throughout.