Exactly a month ago, the majority of the world (those who follow the Gregorian calendar) crossed over into a new year- 2021.
The ending and beginning of years is often a time for reflection, gratitude, and hope for everyone- like a collective birthday. And for Christians like myself, it often means a lot of church events as we are called to come together to give thanks to God for seeing us through the past year and to dedicate the new one to God as well.
The apex event is that on New Year’s Eve night known as cross-over service. I love cross-over service and I in no way mean to bash it. The idea behind it; Christians coming together in gratitude and hope; the feelings of praise and anticipation… these are just beautiful. However, over the past years, I’ve found this period to be one of a lot of problematic preaching. New Year messages in churches have come to look like exercises in worldly affirmations; with themes that speak to our selfish desires for all things contentment here and prosperity with very little scriptural grounding.
I have spoken about this before- the shallowness of the themes churches give years; we claim it will be ‘our year of double blessing’, ‘our year of breakthrough’ our year of elevation, ‘our year of supernatural harvest’ or ‘our year abundance’ etc.
And I have always wondered at how one-sided those claims are. To claim that it is my year of ‘supernatural harvest’, would entail that the preceding year was one of “supernatural sowing”, and was it? Also, if we really are seeking God for the year ahead, asking to be led by his Spirit, why are none of us claiming the fruits of the Spirit? Why are there no themes like “, “My year of patience”, “My year of faithfulness”? “My year of gentleness”.
Of course, our themes would be claims of positivity, I don’t expect us to claim negativity. Yet, I wish the church encouraged a lot more reflection on what we really need and what God’s spirit offers.
I would like to see more people claim it is their “year of healing”, ‘or “year of giving’ and I in particular can definitely use a ‘Year of Self-control” to get my head right.
What about you, what theme would you give this year? What do you think of the themes given at your church if you attend?
As always, I would love to read your thoughts!