Tax day, April 15? Maybe?
I am going to suggest Jan. 2. You see, all we do from Thanksgiving Day until January 1st is party (some of us also have to work too). We stuff ourselves with food — turkey and dressing, cakes, candies, pumpkin pie, and chicken wings for bowl games. Jan. 1 is a huge day with food, parties, and football and more football.
And what do we get for all that? Jan. 2.
So, we find ourselves overweight, exhausted, in debt, with the house in a mess, but we trudge to church the Sunday before Jan. 2 to hear a scintillating sermon about hope for the New Year.
On Jan. 2, after all the football games and ten million calories, we realize it is time to get on a budget, go on a diet, and put up all those Christmas decorations.
Whose idea was it, by the way, to put all the good holiday stuff so early in winter? Think about it. There is nothing to look forward to except the bleakness and cold of winter (I hate February) until March Madness and The Masters. When I hear the sports announcers say things like “Road to the Final Four” (March Madness) and “A tradition unlike any other” (The Masters), I feel like I have been born again.
The month of January takes its name from the Roman god Janus — a two-faced being who was looking back and looking ahead.
Jan. 2 should not be a day when all we do is figure out how we are going to lose that weight and how we are going to pay the bills. Jan. 2 is also a mountain peak from which we can look back and look forward. Yes, Janus looks back, but she also looks forward, as should we.
Anticipation is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I feel so sorry for folk who have nothing to look forward to. Hope is one of the greatest Christian qualities. We Christians should never think that God has done His best work or exhausted His creativity in the past.
What keeps a farmer plowing when dust is blowing in his face and the field is dry and sun-parched? The soldier in the fox hole has bullets flying by his head, but hope that someday he will get to taste his mama’s biscuits and pecan pie again keeps him going.
I’ve seen hope a hundred times in the hospital waiting room. The doctor comes out in his green scrubs and says to the family, “I think I got it all.” Now there is a future.
Jan. 2 can’t be just the end of the party, but a hopeful day as we look forward to what God has for us. So, don’t use Jan. 2 to make a list of last years’ disappointments — you didn’t win the Lottery or lose any weight. Use it, as the writer of Ephesians 1 does, to look ahead to what God has for us. As Paul says in v.12, “We who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.”
So, which team do you think is the favorite to win March Madness, and do you think Tiger or Rory will take home the Green Jacket? I can’t wait to find out, but I will have to muddle through winter to get the answers.
Davis is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton.