Sunday, January 1, 2017




As the earth made its revolution around the sun, month in and month out it was a peaceful meadow, a beautiful glen of repose and solitude where one could go to calmly ponder about the mysteries of life and the eternities. As the buds and fresh leaves began to appear, the meadow lost its peacefulness as celebrants gathered for that special season dedicated to renewal and re-creation. The glen became the center for activity and jubilation for the ancient Greeks who gathered to symbolically commemorate in joyfulness, life springing forth once again after a long and dreary winter. Many of those gathered paused periodically to think upon personal hopes and desires for growth and prosperity. While others, totally captivated by the dazzling and dizzying atmosphere created by the music, dancing and raucousness, attempted to take full advantage of these few moments which gave them a respite from the heaviness of their usual routines.

One of the tenants of the Law given through Moses to the children of Israel was the observance of the Sabbatical Year. The Sabbath of years, one year of seven, was to be a year of forgiveness for many, a year of beginning anew for all. What a glorious year where forgiving and being forgiven of all of one’s encumbrances became the resolve. That ancient sabbatical year was filled with rejoicing as the tribes of Israel felt their spirits lifted, generating renewing strength and a freshening of vitality as the yoke carved by poor choices, poor management or more clever minds was lifted from each individual shoulder. This jubilation spread from person to person, from city to city until it filled the whole nation of Israel with a hope which brought an increase of productivity and prosperity. The Year of Jubilee helped many to ponder upon how to administer their lives better. Sadly the clever minds eventually found ways to avoid the losses which came when they would release a neighbor from bondage and the Year of Jubilee became another time of celebration which had lost its meaning.

As Jesus the Christ proclaimed the good news he made sure that each individual would be assured the right of new beginnings and renewals, times when his followers would be able to lay down those parts of their lives which were old, tired and burdensome and replace them with new, fresh and stimulating desires and aspirations. Paul taught that the ordinance of baptism was a type of burial and resurrection, a time when the neophyte disciples had the chance to begin again as if they had been reborn, a time when the bondages of sin and self-destructive practices could be shed, a birth which breathes freshness and vitality into lives freed from their burden-laden pasts. The Savior instituted the Sacraments of the bread and the wine so that on a very frequent schedule his adherents could refresh and renew this process of shedding their accumulated burdens and be able to walk lightly away on a straighter path, refreshed by this remembrance of Him and their desires to be faithful followers.

Annually, many of the earth’s inhabitants conduct a ritual of renewal which in some households has taken on the dimension of being mandatorily observed as if it had some religious significance and must be done to ward off the demons which might cause them to have a devastating year. This ritual is heralded not by a new moon, nor a new heaven, not even the changing of nature’s garb. We simply look on the wall and discover that the calendar is tattered and used with no new pages filled with days for our future. We take it down and as if all those days on its pages had no significance, we discard it and hang in its place a fresh new calendar filled with days where our lives will evolve or revolve minute by minute. Just like the celebration of the day of our birth we go to great lengths to make this changing of the calendar a momentous occasion, but like our birthday when we arise the next morning we find the routineness of life filling that day and the next and the next.

To some who gathered in the glens of ancient Greece the annual celebrations of spring truly became a meaningful moment of renewal. Marking the beginning of a year of diligence and dedication to the completion of their pondered resolutions which would enliven their lives and make them more than that which they had been. Others will dumbly go through day after day dreaming of buds and new leaves heralding the time when they can once again find momentary respite in the meadow.

Those individuals, cities or tribes who strictly adhered to the laws of the Year of Jubilee, reaped the benefits of renewed stimulation, freshness and strength. Universally they lifted the burdens from one another’s shoulders, beginning a new era of vitality and prosperity which spread and grew until bad decisions, bad management and clever minds once again built up the burdens which hamper continued progress.

Those converts who lay down their old lives in the waters of Baptism and renew their convictions frequently by partaking of the Sacraments of the bread and wine and then demonstrate their devotion by walking the path of discipleship will be renewed, rejuvenated and refreshed as if they are continually reborn into a life of hope unburdened by abandoned destructive behaviors. Returning to those old personal paths of perpetuating prideful behavior makes all who once felt renewed to feel old and burdened with sadness and worry.

As we replace last year’s calendar, which helped bring some order to earth’s inhabitants with the universal acceptance of the regularity of a seven day week, with the hanging of the bright new calendar it would be well to complete the ritual by looking at those pages containing the untapped wealth of 365 days with gratefulness. Before we discard the tattered and used calendar we might pause for a moment or two of grateful remembrances for all the opportunities and challenges we have experienced as we crossed off the days on its pages.

This ‘New Year’ gives us all the opportunity to examine our lives, spending ample time remembering with gratefulness those experiences which have brought us to where we are in life and being open to those changes which will increase our level of integral happiness, holding on to that which is best and enlivens our lives and discarding that which is bad and deadens our lives. The ritual of the calendar presents us with another one of those moments when we have a chance to start to rid ourselves of destructive habits too long practiced and in their place inculcate into our lives long-desired edifying attributes.

May the Lord bless us that as we go through our individual celebrations of jubilation we will find a peaceful place where we can lay the foundations for a happier, more productive and meaningful life. At present we can only hope and pray for a time when the desire to edify, build and strengthen one another flows from person to person, city to city, nation to nation until it edifies, builds and strengthens this fragile planet we occupy. Will I be the one to take the first step or will I spend another year waiting for another to begin the liberating jubilation?

Scriptures: Proverbs 28:20, Alma 4:10, Alma 37:41, Mosiah 1:17, Luke 16:10, Matthew 25:23,


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