By now, your new year’s resolutions or word for the year have probably lost their luster. Maybe you’ve forgotten them. Do you ever wish you could have a do over? Wouldn’t it feel great to start fresh?
One of the things I love about our God is the way everything He does spiritually is in harmony with all of creation. So He tells us to begin our year when we’re seeing spikes of green on the lawn, craving something fresh and vibrant in our own lives.According to the calendar God established for His people just before the exodus, the new year begins this week. And we kick things off with a month of celebrating who God is and who we are in Him.The new year starts with the month of Aviv (pronounced ah-veev). It’s one of the few months in the Biblical calendar whose original name was preserved after the Babylonian exile. This is significant, because the word itself has multiple layers of meaning that illustrate what we’re celebrating. First off, there’s an agricultural meaning. Aviv refers to a very specific stage in the ripening of grain. When barley is in the aviv stage, it’s tender, green growth. So on one level, we’re celebrating vibrancy and new life. But it’s also a signal that the harvest isn’t far away. By the middle of the month, just after Passover, a few stalks of the very first of the barley crop (the firstfruits) will be harvested and waved before God in thanksgiving. So we’re celebrating not just the beauty of now, but also anticipating the joy of the harvest.
And the letters themselves reveal another reason to celebrate. Beginning at the right, the first letter is א . it originally looked like this א, depicted the head of an ox, and represented strength and authority. Next comes the ב which originally looked like this ב. It represented a tent, and signified a household or family. Then comes the י which looked like this י and depicted a hand. It ends with another ב, again signifying house or family.
So the word itself marks the transition from one house to another. And that’s exactly what God asks us to celebrate this month.
The אreminds us that everything begins with God’s strength at work on our behalf. The ב acknowledges that we were enslaved in the house of bondage. The י celebrates how God brought us out by His powerful hand. And the ב reminds us to celebrate redemption and deliverance as one household, one family of God.
Aviv celebrates our journey from the house of bondage to the household of God.I’ve been celebrating this cycle for almost 20 years, but I never noticed the story hidden in this word until a few days ago. And I cried when I realized it was there all along. It’s not just the story of a foreign people who lived long ago. It’s your story, our story. We are one family, on the cusp of new life. And we have so much to celebrate.
How will you mark this new beginning? Tell us about it in the comments below.