bruce_woodThis week has been something of a trying week for many of us. I, for example, was supposed to have this column written and submitted earlier in the week, but I was prevented from doing so thanks to blizzards and power outages. After four days of having to sleep away from home (our home in Brick was not plowed out until Thursday this week) we spent the next several days trying to get the power company to restore power to our home. While talking to one of the older men in the church he remarked that, “I hope the old tradition of the way you spend your New Year’s being the way you spend your year isn’t true.”

At first I was tempted to agree and launch into a, “pity party” for myself and my woes. But then I got to really thinking about what was happening to me and to my family. We spent our New Year’s Eve with my parents and family having a much-delayed Christmas party and then midnight came to me in bed with my wife and our three-year old son reading him a bedtime story (he stayed up to celebrate with my family in our somewhat belated Christmas festivities). There were kisses for wife and son and then New Year’s Day found us getting power back to our home and cleaning up from our roller coaster week.

My attitude changed about my older friend’s words pretty quickly when I saw my circumstances in a different light. Gone from this year was the usual hurry to flick on a television (there wasn’t enough power for it), gone were the streamers and resolutions, the sound of loud music or the fireworks. For the first New Year’s in longer than I can remember I spent it in the dimly lit silence of a loving family, a bedtime story, and a prayer. It will likely go down as one of my best New Year’s celebrations yet.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am still a fan of the camaraderie, the sights of thousands of strangers taking a moment to recognize their place in history and their shared love of each other and our understanding of the whole human race as bound by the rotation of our little planet around our star for another time. I love all of these things, and I cherish the perspective they give us every year at this time. I am, however, moved by the silence as well – the look in my baby boy’s eyes as our world begins its journey again, and the warmth of family as we shut down (however forcefully) our electronic existence to celebrate midnight the way they must have before their were national broadcasts and ball drops and live performances from such-and-such a locale.

So I do hope that 2011 continues to be what 2010 left me off at. In many ways it is a prayer that I share with each of you as we celebrate this week/weekend. For you see, with the perspective put in just the right light (the correct light) my year began in the loving arms of my family, half way out of the dark and waiting for all the lights to come back on. That’s not a bad way to start a year. It’s not a bad metaphor for many of our lives today. We are all half way out of the darkness (though some are just starting that journey) and we are all waiting for more light in our lives. On New Year’s Day I sought help to get the lights turned back on permanently. This year we can all either reach out or make ourselves available to be reached out to. We can turn the lights back on in someone’s life this year, and we can ourselves reach out to a loving God who wants nothing more than to turn the dark out on all our lives and allow us to live in the light.

As we begin 2011, together, I leave you with a blessing:


The Lord Bless you

And keep you;

The Lord make his face shine upon you

And be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you

And give you peace.

– Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

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