By Bob Russell
I’ve never been very fond of New Year’s Eve. When I was a boy, our family usually went to church for a Watch Night service on December 31. The activities started around 9:00 p.m. and included some children’s games and light snacks. We gathered for a devotional service just before midnight, formed a circle, and prayed in the New Year. At the end of the quiet time, a few whispered, “Happy New Year,” and we went home. It was hard for me to stay awake through it all.
Shortly after I was married I attended a New Year’s Eve party with about a dozen couples from church. The young husbands spent most of the evening sitting together talking about sports and cars while the wives sat on the other side of the room talking about children and shopping.
At 11:59 someone started counting down and several guys got up, joined their wives, kissed them, and muttered, “Happy New Year!”
I thought, What a melodramatic, inappropriate public display of affection that is. That’s so phony! I’m glad I’m not a hen-pecked husband like that.
About an hour later, on the way home, my wife was unusually quiet.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she coolly insisted.
“Come, on! Something is wrong. What is it?”
“Well, when the clock struck midnight, all the other guys kissed their wives and wished them a Happy New Year, and you sat there like a bump on a log!”
I said, “Judy, you know I love you. That just felt so artificial to me.” She said, “Yes, I know you love me, but I want other people to know you love me!”
The next year when the clock struck midnight I was among the hen-pecked—and it was a happier New Year!
New Year’s Eve is party time for a lot of people. If Christmas Eve is sacred, New Year’s Eve is often sinful. Many do things that night under the influence of alcohol and drugs they wouldn’t normally do. More family feuds, illicit affairs, and drunk driving accidents occur on New Year’s Eve than any other night. It’s the most dangerous night of the year.
There are several spiritual principles that believers would do well to remember on December 31:
There is a time to celebrate. There is a time to laugh and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Christians shouldn’t be party poopers. When it’s time to celebrate, we should rejoice and be glad.
God’s truth applies every day. There is no exemption from the Lord’s commands on New Year’s Eve. The biblical commands, “Don’t get drunk,” “Don’t commit adultery,” and “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,” are not lifted on December 31.
The future should be faced with eager anticipation. We shouldn’t be apprehensive about what we face in 2014 because God has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
We have a plaque hanging on our kitchen wall that reads, “Fear not tomorrow—God is already there!”
Now that I’m older, I look forward to New Year’s Eve. My wife and I usually stay home, go to bed around 11:00, watch television (wondering why anyone would get a thrill from freezing to death in Times Square waiting for a ball to drop), pray together, kiss, wish each other Happy New Year, and go to sleep.
Sound boring to you? You’re mistaken. We’re comfortable with where we are in life. It’s not artificial or boring. It’s realizing that what really matters is our relationship with God and family.
And do you know what? The next day I’m rested and ready to watch football from noon to midnight. Now that’s what New Year’s Day is all about!
Bob Russell is the retired senior minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 2013 by Bob Russell. Permission to
copy this column may be obtained by writing Debbie Carper, Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Pkwy, Louisville, KY 40243.