"I am making everything new! Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5)
Brothers and sisters in Christ:
My heart is warmed as I contemplate the sights and sounds of our Sunday services during Advent, and the spirit of Koinonia–the fellowship, sharing, and communion–that pervades this place, this community of Christians which we call St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to serve him here.
The story of Christmas is a story of hope realized. This holy season provides a unique opportunity each year for us all to refocus. Not only are we reminded of the awe-inspiring, world-changing, life-altering gift that is Jesus, but we are also reminded of our need for a savior, specifically for Jesus the Christ to heal us in our brokenness. That is in essence why he came – to bridge the gap between us and God. As Charles Wesley’s Christmas hymn powerfully declares:
Hark! The herald-angels sing
"Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
So here we are, at the start of the new year, 2019! For generations, people have attached significance to the start of the new year. Our hopes and dreams seem to rise at the beginning of each year; our self-confidence and resourcefulness in the face of the challenges and worries we face, and the negativity we’re constantly exposed to, receives a shot in the arm. Why is this so? I believe Christmas has a lot to do with it. The good news of Christmas is a solid reason why we can feel very optimistic about the future, our individual futures and that of our congregation, and also the future of our world.
As we look ahead we wonder what’s in store for us in 2019. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) none of us has a crystal ball whereby we can see into the future. We do not know how the coming months will unfold, or what will happen in and around our lives. This reality causes some anxiety to bubble up within me. It also sparks a greater resolve to focus upon God and to put my trust in him.
We stand here at the beginning of the new year. Though we don’t know what’s in store for us in 2019, we stand here as people of faith who have looked toward Bethlehem and gazed upon him who is the light of the world! The baby in the manger, Jesus Christ, has confirmed for us that God hasn’t abandoned or rejected us, but rather has redeemed and embraced us. This is what ultimately gives the beginning of a new year its mood of joyous optimism. This message will also sustain us and serve as an anchor for us when anxiety levels rise and fear attempts to overtake us during the course of the year.
Will you please join me in making a new year pledge? Let us pledge to one another that we will look to Christ Jesus often and trust him unconditionally during the coming weeks, as God works his purpose out. By doing so, we’ll be able to experience God’s peace and joy no matter what happens. This new year promises to be quite an adventure, and I’m looking forward to it very much; I pray that you are as well.