• Have you ever been especially angry when driving on the road?
  • Have you ever cut in front of someone in line at the grocery store?
  • Have you ever had buyer’s remorse?
  • Have you ever regretted something you wish you hadn’t done?

If you’re anything at all like me, then the answer to all of the above and much more is a resounding “yes.” Human beings are not perfect, as we know very well, and often make mistakes. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. As Saint Paul affirms so powerfully in his epistle to the Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). As a result, each of us has our good days and our bad days, and along with those bad days can come regrets and wishing we hadn’t done certain things.

Is this perhaps the reason why New Year’s Resolutions are so popular? There is, after all, something to be said about being able to turn the page on one year and go into the next with a completely clean slate, a completely fresh start. We tell ourselves things like “I will go to the gym more often.” We hear statements like “I will be nicer to people around me,” or “I will spend more time with my spouse or my family.” New Year’s resolutions offer us an opportunity to reflect on our mistakes, our shortcomings, and to start over completely forgiven, even if we forget what our resolution was after two weeks.

Despite how powerful a New Year can feel, the reality is that for each of us as Orthodox Christians, every moment of every day is a new beginning! So much of our faith revolves around just this concept: we are weak, we have shortcomings, we need to be forgiven, and through one sacrament or another, one concept or another, we are forgiven. The Lord knows that our slate is wiped clean each time He touches our life when we ask Him. I would pose a new series of questions with this in mind:

  • Have we ever felt cleansed after the Sacrament of Confession?
  • Have we ever believed we are forgiven after receiving Holy Communion?
  • Have we ever received guidance through prayer when encountered with a problem?
  • Have we ever felt renewed when praying a baptism service and pondering our own?
  • Do we believe that the Lord knows our weaknesses and heals them?

If you’re anything like me, the answer to all of the above, and much more, is yes, and I need to do it far more.  

There is a reason that every Sunday, for those who are able to make it to Orthros, the service begins with a series of Six Psalms that talk about how weak and wretched we are as humans and sinners, but by the end of the day we are cleansed! We are renewed! We experience our own “New Year” at the conclusion of every Divine Liturgy, and every time we pray!  Every time we ask for the Lord to help us, we receive what we need and are “wiped clean.” The reality is that there is never a point where the Lord shuns or condemns, but like any parent who desires nothing more than to be with their children, He patiently waits and invites, and then starts all over with that person.  

May this New Year bring every blessing from above, and may we always remember that our fresh start is never as far away as it may seem.

Happy New Year! Καλή Χρονιά!