Happy Jewish New Year!
If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me fill you in. Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashana, a holiday in which we Jewish people celebrate the beginning of our new year. This year is 5772- the year of the latkah (or so I just declared it). It's gonna be a good one.
Rosh Hashana is a special holiday- it is a celebration of new beginnings, and a hope for new life. That hope lies, for most Jewish people, in the idea that tonight and for the next ten days, they have the chance to have their names written for another year in the Lambs Book of Life- God's document which discerns who gets into heaven and who doesn't. Many believe that their name is put in here based on how they've behaved this year- have they been good? Have they served God? The holiday marks the beginning of a ten day process, the time in which you have to get your name into the book. It ends with Yom Kippur, the day of mourning and atonement, in which many sacrifice food for a 24 hours period to show their sorrow. They will sit in their congregations for long services, recite special prayers, and hope that their sorrow and repentance does the trick and leaves their names in the book for another year, as it will be sealed on that last day.
For Messianic Jews, of course, this is a different kind of celebration. We believe that our faith in the Messiah- in Jesus, is what gets our names into that book. And no ten day period can get them out. There is no renewal clause. We only have to atone once- by confessing that we have sinned and we need the savior to take away what we've done. And that's that.
So each new Rosh Hashana is a chance for me to ask myself this question: What am I celebrating this year? What has God done that has shown me a little more of who I was, who He is, and who I am becoming in Him? And each self reflection is a time for me to see if I've come any farther in the last year.
Unfortunately, my self reflections aren't always very encouraging.
See, as we look at ourselves, not through our eyes, but through the eyes of our loving Father, we start to see ourselves for who we really are. We start to understand the darkness of our hearts, and the evil that lurks within us. We start to realize that we should have been a lot further than we are, that we've had more than enough time to make what we have work. It's almost a little depressing to reflect on ones self, especially when one knows all the deep dark secrets that one's soul holds.
Switchfoot, a popular band, has a song entitled "The Blues", in which lead singer Jon Foreman sings an emotional account of the sadness that can come with a new year. He talks about a number of different negative emotions that can come when reflecting back on time lost. "Is this the new year," he asks, "Or just another desperation?"
Sometimes it is easier to fall into the trap of how far we have fallen. It's even easier to push our own disappointments back and pretend that the things we have done in the last year are enough, even though we believe in our deep hearts that they aren't even close. But God sent the savior for this very reason- so that when our self reflection leaves us feeling like an old sock in a new drawer, we know that the time we spent has not been in vain- He is using us.
And so, this year, I will celebrate the New Year, not as a new beginning alone, but as a reminder that no time I have anymore is wasted, because the Savior lives in me, and is using me. And I will celebrate that I do not have to worry, because I have certainty that my name is in that book, and I don't' have to stress about it. I will celebrate the freedom that comes, not just with the new number at the end of the date, but with every day that I get to live in Messiah.
La'Shana Tovah, Tikvah Tenyu- May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
And on the end, forever.