On a TV morning show today, the talk was all about counting down t0 the greatest New Year’s Eve celebration ever. It triggered thoughts about holiday celebrations in general–and how much the same they are.
Yes, each one has its own flavor–for example, the Fourth of July is about fried chicken and fireworks, whereas Thanksgiving is about turkey and dressing and–maybe sleigh rides? Depending on the climate where you live.
The thing they all seem to have in common is that the original meaning of them tends to get lost in the shuffle of “Yeah! A vacation from work and school! A time for family, presents, and parties.”
What if, on the Fourth of July, for example, we got together with family and friends and listened to–or, better yet, recited–the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence? What if we actually caught the spirit of the men who had to “hang together” to birth a new nation, because, if they didn’t, they would “hang separately”? (Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who said that?) What if we were filled with thankfulness for our freedoms and opportunities? What if we were so mindful of the great gift given to us by our forefathers that we personally resolved, as Abraham Lincoln urged, “that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Wouldn’t that be a true celebration of Independence Day?
Believe me, I’m not knocking taking time off work to relax, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy seasonal festivities. Hurrah for holidays! But each one is based on a significant event, and–I don’t know about you, but–I feel cheated when that is glossed over.
That’s why I love New Year’s Eve celebrations with my church family. Last year, after a fabulous meal, and several rousing praise songs, our pastor and several associate pastors preached ten minutes each on what the Lord had shown them about the upcoming year. At midnight, I was full not only in stomach but socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Oh, it’s 7:00 PM. Two hours until this year’s celebration. It will probably be the best New Year’s Eve celebration ever!