As I write it has been Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year so a belated “Shanah Tovah” to you all. Some of you may know that that makes Tuesday (22nd Sept)Yom Kippur which is, of course, the Jewish day of atonement. A day for quiet prayer, of privateconfession and forgiveness that rounds off the ‘high holy days’ of the Jewish year. I like to think of it as our Hebrew brothers and sisters getting going and Godded up ready for the year to come. There are elements of admitting what the last year was really like and then clearing the decks for the year to come. This, however, is not the only new year that starts at this time. As mentioned in the last edition, there is the new school year and may be some of those heading into it would like the opportunity to confess and start afresh with out the tags of the previous year, metaphorically floating above their heads. In terms of the Church of Ireland it may not liturgically, astronomically or organisationally be a new year but mentally it is. Cricket and the G.A.A county championships come to an end and theRugby and that awful foreign sport that we seem to be no good at but want to discuss endlessly, take over. More importantly than this though, for a denomination built around niceness and cake, it is as mentioned last time, Harvest Festival season, which, for us, is a big deal and really kicks off the clergy persons year. Once harvest and the associated bun fight and or BBQ are done you are really into the guts of the year and on your trajectory through Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and onto General synod in May and out the other side to Summer and hopefully a few quiet Sundays.
There are various other new years, the Zoroastrian ( that’s Freddy Mercury’s crowd) new year is in August, the official church year starts in Advent, the new year for the tourist industry is St. Paddy’s day and then there is the Chinese New Year. We also have a tradition of the new year starting on St. Brigid’s day, there was a time in Britain and Ireland when the new year started in March which was changed to fit in with the rest of the western world some time in the 1700’s and of course there is our now traditional New Year in January. It is important to have a new year. It help you organize yourself and sort out where you are but I suppose it doesn’t matter when your new year is, so long as it makes sense to you and is consistent.
I suppose for me it’s a matter of triangulation. If you want to know where you are you need to have two known fixed points to be able to make a triangle with your unknown point. If you remember back to all those lovely theorems from the inter cert, you can figure out the 3rd point of the triangle if you have the other two. However be careful, if you really want to know where you are make sure that one of those points is a fixed constant out side of your power to choose, a north star to all the other points, other wise you might find yourself drifting. For me that is what God is.