New Year’s Eve is a time for looking back as well as for celebrating what is to come. When my daughters were young, I wanted to celebrate Christmas with a focus on Jesus and worshiping Him. To that end, we part of our Christmas celebration included Advent and a daily time in God’s Word. Unlike many Advent celebrations, we continued after Christmas, ending on New Year’s Eve.
Our New Year’s Eve Scripture is Matthew 28: 1-10, the story telling of finding the empty tomb. The hope we have knowing Christ died for our sin and was resurrected, providing us with freedom from sin and eternal life with Him in heaven.
Twenty-five year ago, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times (I apologize for not having the information about the author of the article, so she can receive credit for her idea) about a way to include children in the New Year’s Eve celebration. With some modification, it fit perfectly into our Advent devotion and was the perfect way to begin a new year focused on Christ.
After remembering Christ’s sacrifice, we read 1 John 1:9
If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
A black bag sits in the middle of the table where we gather together. At each place is a small stack of paper strips and a pen. There is also a page with verses and questions for guided confession. We silently read the verses and as prompted by the Holy Spirit confess our sins and write them on the papers. The papers go into the paper bag, we put it in the fireplace and burn it. While it burns, we sing a hymn by Helen Griggs, “My Sins are Gone,”
Gone, gone, gone, gone,
Yes! My sins are gone.
Now my soul is free
And in my heart’s a song.
Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes that’s good enough for me.
I will live eternally,
My sins are G-O-N-E, gone!
Next we share our hopes for the coming year, especially relating to serving and growing in our relationship with Christ. For the last several years, instead of setting goals, I choose a Bible verse for the year. In 2012 and 2013, I chose one word, based on the book My One Word: Change Your Life with Just One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. (You can read more about my word for 2015 tomorrow).
Finally, we pray for one another, specifically asking God to help us live more closely to Him by keeping our goals in the forefront of our days throughout the new year. Each person receives a new perpetual calendar containing Scripture.
We lift glasses of sparkling cider to celebrate all God has prepared for us in the new year.
This new year, I pray each of you know the joy of being forgiven and free because of the sacrifice of Jesus. I encourage you to find a Scripture verse or a word to help you focus on living for Christ every day of 2015.
May 2015 be filled with the true joy of serving Christ.