Which New Year?

We’ve celebrated two new years now…one driven by the calendar, the other driven by the liturgical year.  The liturgical year, which you can think of as the year, structured by the Christian story began at Advent in the beginning of December and takes us imaginatively through the story of Jesus’ life and the lives of the early apostles.  Apart from other things, it is a cycle designed to remind the church of its responsibilities and, more importantly, the work of God in our lives.

The two “new years” are inspired by very different assumptions.

  • The calendar-new year is inspired by optimism that comes with simple change.
  • The liturgical-new year is inspired by hope in a renewed sense of God’s presence.
  • The calendar-new year invites personal resolutions.
  • The liturgical-new year asks, “What is God doing?”
  • The calendar-new year typically emphasizes personal ambition.
  • The liturgical-new year emphasizes holy ambition.
  • The calendar-new year lends itself to the question, “What can I do for myself this year?”
  • The liturgical-new year asks, “What can I do for God?”
  • At the end of this calendar-year, the old year will give way to a new one and we will repeat the cycle, dependent on the unseen events that lie ahead
  • At the end of the liturgical-year, we will be reminded anew that — as always — we are dependent upon God.

Which new year do you want to have?

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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