At midnight yesterday morning, Samoa switched time zones, moving from one side of the International Dateline to the other.  They went from 23:59 on Thursday, December 29, to 0:00 on Saturday, December 31st.  (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16351377 )  They did this in order to make it more possible to interact with, and travel to and from, Australia and New Zealand.  As a community, they adoped a new marker of time to maximize possibilities.

In the greater scheme of things, this is a very small story.  But it helps me think about what I need–and perhaps what we humans need–to actually embrace and live out new possibilities as individuals and as communities.

During this Advent and Christmas season, I have been thinking a lot about possibilities.  That is, I’ve been looking for new paths for myself, and new social configurations that might lead us beyond the damaging, unjust, and inhuman structures that are presently constricting our lives as societies.

But Advent is about the coming of a particular possibility – God with us; the expectation of Advent is the longing and waiting for incarnation.  And Christmas, though it has been descibed by some modern theologian or preacher (whose name I forget) as “the birth of possibility itself,” is again about God entering into our world, and only secondarily about us.  It is a sign–the vision that Mary sings can become reality.  I embrace the incarnation as a revelation of God and God’s nature at the heart of my life and my faith.  And I do look for how I am called to incarnate God as a member of Christ’s body.

This year, though, I also want the celebration of a New Year –the communal moving from one set of numbers to the next–in order to welcome new possibilities.  The year we are entering might not be better than this last one was, though you and I probably hope that it will be so.  All we know for certain is that, at least in some small ways, or through unexpected events, it will be different.  Even though we know that so many things will remain dreadfully,  or routinely, or with any luck,  the same, somehow, the new numbers suggest that things can also be new.

While New Year’s resolutions are almost sure to prove un-helpful, maybe marking a time as a time for new possibilities might help us move toward them.  The New Year is celebrated by so many all around the world — might it be a global and pan-cultural, pan-religious ritual to mark a time for all of us to find some new possibilities for our selves, our religious communities, our countries and our planet?

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