Here we are on the eve of another year. It’s not that December 31st is the end of all things old and January 1st is the beginning of all things new. But God gave us days and seasons and years that we might have markers in order to number our days (Ps 90:12). Countless people will gather together tonight in groups of two’s, of tens, and of thousands. Some will gather with no one. All will be participating in a form of worship. Drink will be poured, cup will be raised, songs will be sung, commitments will be made. If I may be so bold, let me divide this ritual called New Year’s Eve into two groups of people.
The first group are those who drink to forget. The most obvious person in this category is the man or woman who drink out of despair for the realities of life. They drink that they might forget the troubles that are upon them. For them, the cup holds out the promise of escape. To forget the past is to escape the past in order to survive the present. The second person in this category is harder to notice. This is the man or woman who appears to drink in joy and thankfulness, but they raise their cup out of deception. The cloak of sentimentality has covered the reality of their condition before God and man. For them the cup holds out the promise of an imitation happiness for the true peace and joy that eludes them. To forget the past is to rewrite the past in order to enjoy the present.
The second group of people are those who drink to remember. We are the people of a crucified, risen Savior who raise our cup of salvation, drink the wine of gladness, and sing the songs of promises made and promises kept by our faithful, covenant-keeping God. We do not drink to escape the realities around us, for the earth is the Lord’s and all that it contains. We do not drink to rewrite the failures of the past or the guiltiness of our hearts before the Holy God. All our days were recorded before any of them came to be (Ps 139:16). Christ came to take upon Himself all of my sins past, present and future. We are no longer under condemnation as enemies of the Most High (Rom 5:10). Rather, we stand with silly, child-like faces at the kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God (1 Jn 3:1).
So on this New Year’s Eve, let us drink that we might remember. Let us remember who we are apart from the mercy and grace of God. Let us remember what we deserve as rebels and idolaters of our Good Creator and Rightful King. Let us remember the love of the Father and sufficiency of the Son in the crushing of sin’s guilt upon the cross. Let us remember the unwavering faithfulness of the Triune God throughout all human history and in our own lives. Let us remember the past that we might rejoice in the present and have faith for the future. This is no escapism. All things have been placed under Christ’s feet. This is no sentimental goo. The reality of Christ’s redemption of all things and our story within the divine Story is far greater than any historical fiction we could invent.
What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.