Times Square.  Packed with crazy, happy people, just waiting for that ball to drop — the moment 2014 turns into 2015.  A transition from one year that held both successes and failures, into a new year filled with hopes, promises and expectations.

Over your life span, where were you at that point in time when you left one year behind in favor of a new one?  Did that new one turn out as you had hoped, as you expected?  No?  Yes?

Well, here we are at the annual “do-over”.  The chance to get it right this time!  In the past I have resolved to get in better shape, to lose weight, to stop being my worst critic, etc.  All those resolutions went on the pile of “missed it by this much”. It isn’t that I didn’t do it, it’s just that…I didn’t do it!  So, years ago I resolved not to have any new year resolutions!  So far I have kept that one.  Yea!

Now, is this the year that all that changes?  That you and I resolve to be more generous?  To be more kind?  To be more compassionate?  To be more aware of others around us, their needs, their pain, and reach out?  Is this the year that we resolve to follow that most difficult of God’s charges to us:  “Love others as I have loved you.”

Just the other day I was thinking about things that we earn and things we don’t earn. For example, we earn a promotion by hard work, loyalty, etc.  Or we earn our pay for work done.  Or we earn a reputation for being a good person (or not).

On the other hand, some of the most important things in our lives we do not earn.  We do not earn love, or friendship.  I have a dear friend who has a talent for maintaining friendships over the years.  She keeps in contact with every one of them, she visits, has them over to her house, sends cards and letters, etc.  In order words, she maintains and values all their friendships.  She has learned the secret: love and friendship have to be given in order to experience love and friendship in ourselves.

The operable word is “given”, as in generous spirit, as in gifts of God are to be given to the glory of God.  Let us pray for a year full of new opportunities, an abundance of warm people among us, a life of God in our midst, and an adventurous spirit that motivates us to share, to give, to love others.

There is a Hebrew prayer of gratitude for the gift of life that seems appropriate at this moment in time.  “Blessed are Thou, O lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us, who has brought us whole to this moment.

May God bless this new year for each and every one of us, a year in which love overcomes.  A year in which we have confidence that God is always with us and unfolds great possibilities for each of us.  And the Peace of God, which passes all understanding, will be with you and make your hearts joyful and glad, and that’s not earned!  Amen.

For What It’s Worth.