Our gathering in Church this night is a tradition which we have picked up over the years as Christians in this part of the world. In the Catholic Church, there is no specific liturgy for New Year’s Eve. Our Liturgical calendar already began on the first Sunday of Advent. This night, we are not reflecting on any specific readings, but we shall sit beside this old year 2020 and allow it to give us some of its fatherly advice.
1. Never Try to Deceive God
There is a belief amongst Christians that if they enter the New Year in the house of God, it is a good sign and the indication that the coming year will be good and better than the previous year. As such, our churches are usually filled to capacity on nights like this especially with people who normally would not go to church. Indeed, it will not be out of place for me to warn you to watch your belongings properly as I would not be happy to hear that anyone’s phone or wallet is missing. A word is enough for the wise.
Given that as a people, we are used to cutting corners and bribing our way to get what we want, we also apply that so-called sense with God; we assume that if we try to give God His due just this night, if we sow a seed this night or shout “Amen” to powerful prayers, God will make the new year smooth and easy for us. At least, 2020 has taught us that God cannot be deceived. There were many men and women of God who lied in the name of God just to make their congregation super excited; they made prophetic declarations that God had not revealed to them.
Dear child of God, stop sitting on the fence. Stop trying to be hot and cold at the same time. If it is God you want to serve, then serve Him with all your heart, with all my mind and with all your strength. Let today not be your last time of coming to church this year, be consistent. God cannot be bribed or manipulated. Live as a child of the light. Drop your bad habits, repent from your sin, make a covenant with God today and be faithful to it. Stop being a disgrace to your Christian identity.
2. Be Your Brother’s Keeper
Recently, I saw on Social Media a post that says there were only five months in 2020; January, February, Covid-19, #endsars and December. In truth, the bulk of our suffering and pain in 2020 came from the covid-19 pandemic. In the name of enforcing a lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus, we learnt how a young man was shot by security forces in Delta State. This triggered public outcry and subsequent protests nationwide, first, against police brutality, then ending bad governance. We have not forgotten how some lost their lives at the Lekki Toll Gate even though many continue to deny this fact. Imagine if our security forces had applied more love in the discharge of their duties?
When the news of the virus first broke out, people were quick to call it a Chinese-problem. Life went on as usual in other parts of the world while we saw how people were dying in China. It didn’t take time for us to realize that what goes around comes around. Imagine if the world rallied around China to quickly end the virus within the first 20 days of its outbreak?
Here in Nigeria, billions of naira were raised to fight the virus most of which ended up in private pockets and in warehouses. But for the Endsars protests, no one knew that these palliatives were being kept to be used by politicians to curry favour from the people. One claimed he was waiting for his birthday, another said he was expecting a second wave, another said he was trying to work out logistics for sharing the items. I saw on Twitter recently how a politician was giving away covid-19 palliatives as Christmas gifts not minding that most of these food items had already expired. We claim we are Christians but we are just as wicked as the devil.
Let us learn from 2020 that those tears which we see the faces of others and we refuse to wipe off when we have the capacity to do so may eventually become our own tears. The world is such a small village so small that if we are not our brothers’ keepers, our own security is never assured.
3. Winners Don’t Quit; Quitters Never Win.
In every respect, 2020 was a tough year. There are even jokes on social media that the last person to enter 2021 should shut the door tightly so that nothing of the old year should follow us into the New Year. Nevertheless, as bad as 2020 was, there were many who excelled beyond their wildest imaginations, many who achieved things that they had never achieved within the last ten years combined, many who were faced with life-threatening challenges but were able to see the great opportunities hidden within these challenges.
It is easy for me to tell you what you would like to hear but it is better to tell you the truth. 2021 will not be different from 2020 just as 2020 was not so different from all other years. Of course, I am not saying that history would repeat itself or that the same events of 2020 would happen in 2021. The point is that just as 2020 came with its own unique challenges (breaking many historical records), 2021 would not be immune from its own special challenges and difficulties.
As children of God, our duty is to pray but we must be ready to accept and make the best of whatever God ordains in response to our prayers. St. Paul says: “Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) In other words, rather than hang on to any prophetic declaration this night, let us commit our plans to the hands of God. Let us practice total surrender. Let our prayer be that of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42).
As the number of the calendar year increases, it is a reminder to us that we are also increasing in our age and getting closer to our graves. It is not enough to simply make merry at seeing the New Year, something good and positive must increase in our lives. Time is counting, our life with God must begin to count as well.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, make me better than ever before. Amen