Here we are again. It is the end of the year and we will step into a new one Sunday morning. Although this is a secular holiday will many stop their routine and celebrate the incoming year- sometimes late into the evening. Some reflect on the year coming to an end and wonder what the new year will bring.
For many years, my family would welcome the new year with my parents in the north woods of Wisconsin surrounded by snow, trees and frozen lakes. It was very peaceful. This year, I will go to bed early so that I can wake up early and get ready for church (hint, hint). What a great way to welcome in the new year!
Our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the New Year as a religious event, maybe we should too. The Jewish New Year celebration is called Rosh Hashana. There is even mention of it in the book of Leviticus.
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the Lord by fire.’ ” Leviticus 23:23-25
However, their calendar is different than ours and they celebrated their new year back in October.
The day is commemorated with the blast of the ram’s horn which is known as the shofar and a day off to commune with God. There is no one reason for why the shofar is sounded like a trumpet. Many rabbis have speculated on this biblical ancient tradition. It serves as a call to gather the worshipping community; it is sounded as a spiritual warning and as an alarm clock for people to awake from their spiritual slumber.
Why? Ten days after Rosh Hashanah, our Jewish brothers and sisters celebrate the one of the most important holy days on their calendar: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The day of forgiveness and repentance.
The Jewish New Year and the next ten days are used to get one’s spiritual affairs in order before the Day of Atonement.
This all sounds fairly serious and it is. However, there is also a tradition of serving apples dipped in honey which is a symbolic action of hoping a person’s new year is sweet.
As I think about the upcoming change of year, I think the Jewish people celebrate it right. It is a time of introspection and reflection. It is a perfect time to decide what kind of people we are going to be moving forward. It is time to let go of what needs to be forgotten and embrace the positive change that God calls us to be in 2017 and beyond.
So, eat an apple with a little honey on Sunday for me because hope your new year is sweeter than 2016.
God bless you,