Sitting here surrounded by toppled snowmen, tangled light strands, bent hooks, frayed ribbons and nativities with their pieces all out of order and scattered around, it is time to box up and put up all of the decorations from Christmas. As I take candy canes off the tree and the garland, eating as I go (the diet starts tomorrow!), I remember comments made, or ornaments received, or gifts unwrapped as I spent time with friends and loved ones over these last several weeks.

My family rang in the New Year watching football – not even realizing when the clock struck midnight because we were so distracted. Neighbors began shooting fireworks, and we flipped the tv channel to hear various renditions of “Auld Lang Syne” which is our cue that the new year is here!

I’m convinced no one actually seems to know exactly what Auld Lang Syne means, or why the crazy song lyrics should somehow make sense, but tradition has us continuing to sing the song. The title loosely means “here’s to times gone by”. While I look at my “Christmas mess” waiting to be put up, it definitely brings smiles and tears as each piece seems to bring a different memory from Christmases past. The elves, no longer on the shelf, stare at me as if to say “what?” – knowing that the mischief they created were not my fondest of memories – or were they? 😉

Times gone by are what built our today. 2023 brings with it all that we have done, experienced and survived. Some things we would rather forget: like the words I said that I can’t take back, or the loved ones that I lost, or the things that made life super difficult, but even these, and the way they were handled, brings me to today, and into the future. As a matter of fact, we are told that for the things that drag us down, we should “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Why? Because Jesus makes things new! God says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

The most important things for us to remember, in fact, we are commanded to do so, is the Lord’s faithfulness in our lives. God told the Israelites not to forget that it was the Lord who brought them out of slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 6:12). He told them to remember and teach their children that it was His faithfulness that brought them through the desert for 40 years and into the land He promised their forefathers (Deuteronomy 27:1-8, Joshua 4:1-7). Jesus tells His followers to remember His sacrifice for us all whenever we take communion (Matthew 26:26-28, I Corinthians 11: 23-26).  Not least of all, we should remember with hope and joy that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us so that we can be with Him, and that He will come again to take us to that place (John 14:3).

As we de-deck our halls, and they return to the unadorned normalcy of the non-Christmas season, we reflect on the year past. How will it guide us into the new year? Will we learn? Will we get hung up in the hard times? Will we grow and be challenged to pursue the next level? Will we laugh and be grateful for each of our blessings? Will we focus on the Lord and the way He faithfully brought us to this point? Another thing He tells us to remember is to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

As we remember times gone by, we can see the Lord’s faithfulness. He has been with us. This gives us assurance that He will continue to be. What a wonderful way to skate into 2023! Strong! Courageous! And with full assurance that we are not alone as we embark on this new journey!

Happy New Year, y’all!