For those who want to live by an alternative time – by the Christian calendar – today is New Year’s Eve.  Tomorrow the calendar will begin again with the first Sunday of Advent and we will enter into telling the cycle of the stories all over again.  I am excited.  My heart is longing for the rhythm and call of Advent – to listen and wait.

However, tonight we are having a new year’s eve party for some of those who have bought the calendar and want to know more about it.  Having never done anything like this before, I’m not sure how it will go, but I thought I’d post what we are planning to do for any who are interested.  The evening will be divided into two parts:  Looking back and looking forward.

Looking Back

We will start by looking back over the previous year.  Since we’ve just come off of Thanksgiving, we will participate in some real thanksgiving.  Each person will be given post-it notes on which they can write/draw the answer to the following questions (about this last year):

What people are you thankful for?  What events are you thankful for?  Where have you seen God this year?  What stories have meant the most to you this year?

We will read Psalms 113, 115, 116, and 118 and in between we will share what we have written/drawn on our post it notes.  Then we will stick those notes to an old picture frame I have.  We do this because our remembering and praising “frames” our coming year.  We can trust God because He has been faithful in the past and so we can look forward to the coming year with hope.

Looking Forward

Here we will talk about the calendar and how it can help form a rhythm for our lives.  We will explore each season and why we have it, as well as its symbols, stories and activities.

We will do this around our kitchen table because that is where we, as a family, engage the stories and participate in evening prayer.  We set the table with different color napkins – blue and white for Advent, purple for Lent, gray and red for Holy Week, and a long green table runner for Epiphany and Ordinary Time.  There is a golden plate in the middle symbolizing our times of celebration – Christmas and Easter.

We placed symbols on each napkin, along with a piece of scripture (or phrase) to be read.  Here are pictures of each one:

_mg_3777-copyAdvent – a vase full of water to symbolize the hopes and expectations, a sheep and shepherd to symbolize His common birth, Isaiah 9 as a reading.

_mg_3778-copyEpiphany – two common household jars with candles in them – symbolizing our call to be light to the world within our “jars of clay”, Matthew 5 as a reading

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Lent – a container of ashes, the two phrases most often used on Ash Wednesday

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Holy Week – this gets two spots on the table.  The first is a pair of “feet” and a bowl of water symbolizing the washing of feet.  (I would have put a palm leaf on this area, but we no longer live in Phoenix and I am hard pressed to find one in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year!)

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The second spot on the table shows a cross with 3 nails and the reading, “Finally Pilate handed Him over to be crucified”.

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Ordinary Time– some garden tools symbolizing our growing, planting, and working in the Kingdom.  The reading is Romans 12.

The seasons of Christmas and Easter are represented by a golden plate on the table.  We will partake of apples dipped in honey off the platter to symbolize the sweetness of celebration.  These are times in the calendar – birth and resurrection – when we can almost taste the sweetness of God’s story of redemption!

We will end the evening with a gift for each person – a picture of a door with this piece of writing.  (I did not write this, but found it somewhere on the web.  The author is unknown to me, as I forgot to document the person’s name.  Sorry!)

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New Year Commitment

We will not live a secluded, private faith

We will enter this new year through the door marked “COMMUNITY”

We will not pretend to be something other than what we are

We will enter this new year through the door marked “AUTHENTICITY”

We will confess our brokenness and our shortcomings, but not remain there

We will enter this new year through the door marked “HOLINESS”

We will not live in status quo, in fear of failure

We will enter this new year through the door marked “RISK”

We will turn down the volume of the noise in the world around us

We will enter this new year through the door marked “LISTEN”

We will give of ourselves and our possessions, holding on to nothing

We will enter this new year through the door marked “GENEROSITY”

We will not despair in the midst of a dark world

We will enter this new year through the door marked “HOPE”

We will work at mending old relationships and building new ones

We will enter this new year through the door marked “LOVE”

We will cast aside those things we find security in outside of God

We will enter this new year through the door marked “TRUST”

We will pour out our lives for the sake of our King and for one another

We will enter this new year through the door marked “SACRIFICE”

We will enter all these doors, following Jesus who has gone before us. He has turned the handle on each, thrown the door wide open and bids us to come follow Him.

FOR THE KING AND HIS GLORY, WE WILL ENTER EACH DOOR.