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New Year's EvePosted Tuesday, January 1, 2013, at 4:45 PM
He had never been up at midnight when the new year came into being. He had heard people talk about it. There were parties, lots of food and dancing, a countdown, and at the stroke of midnight lots of sounds, cheering, kissing, fireworks, and so many other marvelous things.
He wanted to see and experience all those things. He was not at home. He and his family had gone to visit family over the holidays. His parents were meeting friends that evening so he was spending the night at a cousin's home and they had promised to share the evening's excitement with him. He and his cousins were to be allowed to stay up until AFTER midnight.
They were so excited. Soon after supper, the table was filled with fudge, cookies, and all sorts of homemade candies. A special cake held the place of honor in the center that was decorated with flowers and shooting sparks of color with the new year's date written across it. There were three kinds of chips, several dips, fruit, and vegetable trays from which to choose as well as the choice of milk or soda. The soda glasses had lines near the bottom of the glass that you filled with the syrup and then finished off with seltzer water and stirred. They actually had TWO syrups so they could choose between Pepsi and/or Dr. Pepper. It was such a feast!
They played games and could eat whatever they wanted to eat. For a while they watched television, but dancing to records and playing board games was much more interesting. He was so excited about being up over an hour past his bedtime as he danced around the room. Soon he would get to experience the celebration of seeing in the New Year.
The evening seemed to be taking a long time. All the excitement and food was making it difficult to keep his eyes open. He decided to sit beside his aunt and rest for just a few moments . . . he was so tired . . . soon he could celebrate with the whole world . . . .
"Jeff, wake up. It's time. Wake up sweetheart; it's time to celebrate--Happy New Year's Jeff."
He opened his eyes and rubbed them with the back of his hands. His eyes flew open. "It's New Years?"
"Almost; see there on the television the ball is about to drop. Everyone is ready for it."
He held his breath, his excitement mounted. His aunt, uncle, and cousins all had noisemakers. The music changed from happy party music to fireworks erupting in the sky and everyone began to sing:
"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."
His uncle lifted him high into the air, his aunt and cousins all kissed him while the dog danced around their feet. He rubbed his eyes and said, "Is this all there is?" As his uncle carried him to bed and his aunt tucked covers all around him he could still hear the sounds of music and fireworks from the television and he closed his eyes to rejoin the world of dreams and sleep.
Too often we work ourselves into frenzied expectations: preparing for a party; perfect refreshments; choosing the right outfit; finding the perfect date . . . and on it goes. Expectations rise to levels that can never be met. Then we find ourselves disappointed. Sometimes we look for God in such big terms that we overlook God.
Sometimes we expect God to put on a complete show for us with a grand finale and fireworks. We grow angry when tragedy happens and blame God. We expect God to perform like the latest hero in the movies.
We question God and scream "where were you?!" when people lose hope and kill others trying to make a name for themselves in history. We scream at God for terrorists; for war; for famine; for . . . . If God is so powerful they why does God not listen to and answer our demands.
That isn't God's way. God's voice is most often found in the still quietness. We look for fireworks, lots of colors, sounds, and spectacular action. God waits for us in quietness, when we are listening for God's voice away from the distraction of the world. God is there when we open our eyes to look for God--not the image we try to force God to be.
God help us to look beyond our expectations. As we find ourselves overwhelmed by the busyness and outlook of the world, the pain and sorrow as well as the joy and celebration--speak to us. We open our hearts, our minds, and our ears to you. Teach us through your still speaking voice. Sustain us with the calm and peace only you can bring. So be it. Amen.
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.