Looking back is fair. Thinking about what has happened in the previous year, both positive and negative is acceptable, but might be incomplete. Scripture offers a pattern in the story of Joshua that might be helpful to think through and experience.
It seems to be a pattern established among the Hebrews
(seen also in Deuteronomy being carried out by Moses, the mentor of Joshua.) The text can be seen in an alteration: Reciting, Recommitting, ReCovenanting, and Remembering. While I am suggesting this as a way to read the text of Joshua 24.1-27, I am not suggesting that this would be the words that Joshua would choose if one could have asked him what he was doing. Even if it was only done one time, it is a powerful way to think about the process.
Joshua called all tribes (v. 1) and then outlined the high points of what God had done for his children. It is a condensed outline of Genesis 11.27 to the present time that Joshua gathered the family together. In the first person voice of God, it is clear that God had acted on behalf of his people in gracious acts.
The tenor of the story changes in verse 14 and we are presented with a saying that many have quoted, often without the supporting context in which it is set. Joshua says in light of all the things that God had accomplished with his children, he and his household were going to serve the lord. I think this is Joshua recommitting to the story of God in light of reciting what God had already done.
In verse 24, the folks join in and recommit to God saying, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” They wrote down what they were committing to.
Finally, Joshua took a stone and built an altar. Altars in the ancient world were places that were built to remember what had occurred at that place. Joshua’s altar at Shechem would be there as a reminder to Israel of all the things that God had done for them from before Abraham to their present. It would also remind them of their recommitment, the writing down of their commitment, a covenant if you please.
Any time of the year is a good time to practice this pattern. At the end of the year might be a good time to set this pattern up and then follow it in your church community and in your individual life anytime during the year.
Below, is a presentation that I made in October 2006 at the Vineyard in Monroe, now called Tapestry Church.