Advent wreathNo, I’m not kidding; it really is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent, which is the beginning of the church year. Advent is an awesome season. I’ve always thought of it basically as a countdown to Christmas, which kind of sounds like an oversimplification. It works, though, if you remember that Christmas isn’t just a day for gift-giving and singing songs about Baby Jesus; it’s about the incarnation and the amazing extent of God’s grace, that he would send his own Son to exist as a regular person in this sinful world, to live and die just to pay for our sins. Actually, that’s not only the point of Christmas, it’s kind of the point of every day, and people should ideally hear it all the time. (‘Tis good to be Lutheran.) But Christmas is the time of year when it’s emphasized by focusing on the birth of Jesus, and Advent is the time of year when it’s emphasized by focusing on the coming of Christmas. (And also Christ’s second coming) It’s a cool way to start the year.

On the other hand, yes, I am kidding; I’m not really doing anything to celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight. But that’s not because I don’t see it as a holiday worth celebrating. It’s just that I’m really, really busy right now. Not only do I have a lot of schoolwork to do, (because finals start on Thursday and my senior seminar presentation is on Wednesday) but I’m also spending a lot of time at dance class because The Nutcracker is next weekend. Today, I was at the studio for six and a half hours, and when you count the driving time and the time it takes to get ready, it adds up to a pretty significant portion of the day. I’m not complaining about that; I’m excited to get to perform The Nutcracker this year, and ballet is a much more interesting way to spend a Saturday than secluding myself in my dorm to do homework all day. Still, the fact remains that having finals and a major performance in the same week does not allow one to have much free time.

You may perhaps notice that my tumblr username is visible in this screenshot. Feel free to stalk me on tumblr.

You may perhaps notice that my tumblr username is visible in this screenshot. Feel free to stalk me on tumblr.

The point is, I don’t have time to do anything for New Year’s Eve. But that’s okay because I don’t know what I would do anyway. There aren’t many specific holiday traditions associated with the last day before Advent, as there are for holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving or the other New Year’s Eve. So I’m observing this holiday by posting stuff about it online. At midnight, I’m going to post “Happy New Year!” as my facebook status just to see how people respond. I already posted a New Year’s Eve message on tumblr. It immediately got reposted by one person, but nothing further has happened to it. Just for good measure, I also tweeted “Happy New Year’s Eve!”, but I don’t expect to get a reaction from that. I hardly ever use twitter and don’t exactly have a very large following.

Just for the record, I have decided that, at least for the time being, I am somewhat obsessed with the hymn “Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People”. Since it is an Advent hymn, it makes sense to mention that now.

 

Manger and CrossComfort, comfort, ye My people,

speak ye peace, thus saith our God;

Comfort those who sit in darkness,

mourning ‘neath their sorrows’ load.

Speak ye to Jerusalem

Of the peace that waits for them;

Tell her that her sins I cover

and her warfare now is over.

 

Yea, her sins our God will pardon,

Blotting out each dark misdeed;

All that well deserved His anger

He no more will see or heed.

She hath sufered many a day,

Now her griefs have passed away;

God will change her pining sadness

Into ever-springing gladness.

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