“The definition of an optimist is someone who waits up until midnight to see the new year in; a pessimist is someone who waits up till midnight to make sure the old year has left !”
I like this quote because it sums up both optimism and pessimism so well. Sometimes I wonder if I`m an optimist with pessimistic tendencies but I rather think that most of us are like that. It isn`t possible to be an optimist the whole time. Everyone of us has our moments of doubt, uncertainty and questioning, we simply don`t always admit it.
This, I think, is especially true of the Church and of preachers in particular. We`re afraid to admit our doubts just in case others think it’s a weakness we have, The consequence is that often many of us are outrageously and insufferably optimistic and prone, therefore, to increasing the pessimism levels in other people.
Coming from the North-east of England, as I do, New Year (or Hogmanay) is often bigger than Christmas. I`ve spent much of my youth waiting up till midnight to see the new year in and much of my early adult years wandering the streets of my home town until 6.00 in the morning when our group would arrive back at our house for me to cook them all a breakfast, or at least for the ones who had managed to stay awake and sober. New Year is a time of excitement and hope. The past is gone and it is a new, clean slate. 2011 stretches out in front of us with all its hopes and expectations, its highs and lows, its disappointments and its joys all wrapped up in sense of newness. Yes, we’ll carry much of tonight into tomorrow but it gives us the chance not only to reflect and think of what happened in 2010 but gives us the chance to turn our lives around and make a fresh start.
And that’s why I can be an optimist on this night of all nights; because it reminds me that Jesus was born into the world in order for us all to have a fresh start. He came to forgive, to pick up those who have fallen and set us all on the right road. He offers us salvation, eternity, peace and joy. Again, as I said earlier, we will have our moments of pessimism but overall there is much to be thankful for.
So I wish you all a very happy new year and may 2011 be a blessed time for you all.