“NOTHING NEW FOR NEW YEARS”
By Rev. Ron Mahler
By Rev. Ron Mahler
Happy New Year! Sometimes, saying that - feels a bit like the Bill Murray experience in the movie “Ground Hog Day.” Every year we say the same thing and perhaps even go through the exact same motions and traditions leading up to the actual day. The thought of entering a “new” year is a special time for many people because it presents us with the sense that we are entering a time that carries with it, second chances and fresh starts – even if it is in an artificial kind of way. What I mean is that January 1st – as we all know, is simply the day after December 31st. All that is new about the day, really, is that it is a new 24 hour period – that has never come before. Most often we find that by the end of the first week of January, if not earlier, the “new” year is not as new or as happy as it was when it began. Call me a pessimist but I really don’t celebrate or observe “new years” in a completely positive fashion, for one never knows what this “new year” may bring?? Like me, you may even share the sentiment that resolutions are overrated. Just like records, they’re often made – and often, broken. After all, we don’t need to wait until January 1st to resolve to lose some weight, to spend less (yeah – like that’s going to happen), or to pray more – unless of course – it is to our advantage to put off doing something we should already be doing! Some favourite sayings I have come across, go like: “My New Year’s resolution is to resolve to have none! No resolution? No problem!” Ah - yes! Perfect! However, one could carry these free-spirited sayings too far in life I suppose. There is the argument that if we venture nothing – nothing is gained.
For sure, though, the afore-mentioned sayings could be classified as the antithesis of a life lived by faith in Christ. Jesus came to resolve an age-old, spiritual condition and propensity that human beings have - in terms of how they act, and, relate to God. We’re not “born to be wild” as the song goes, we’re all born to be “bad,” in that we are all born with a habit that has infiltrated our nature – and it is “sinful.” But wait – there is good news: the Bible says “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son...” (John 3:16) This was the best resolution ever made - and we earthlings can’t take the credit for it either! God resolved not to leave us in our sinful state, but to send us Jesus in order that we could know the mercy, grace and love of God – especially, His forgiveness of our sin. Now in saying this, I want to tell you that I believe there is absolutely nothing profoundly new - in terms of our human condition and the affairs of the world in which we live. There may be more children fed in needy countries this year, there may be a cure on the horizon this year for some physical condition, and we may even find new ways to create renewable energy in 2010, and yet - nothing is new in principle – when it comes to the state of the world, and the on-going events of our time. For every advance we make in life, there are devastating setbacks to counter it. We live in such a desensitised culture, that even if new flashes of terror, scandal, corruption, even passing stories of good deeds and heroes - were to arise in 2010 – they would all remain things we are familiar with – it’s only the names and circumstances that change. There may be “nothing new under the sun” as Solomon wrote - as we face yet another year, but what can be “new” – is how we view and sift through - all that will come at us as people. God “sent His Son” (Jesus) to the world because He loves us (His crown of creation) and wants to gather us as His own. Will we reach out to Him this year by putting our faith in His Son - and allow our lives to be lived by trusting in our Heavenly Father and Creator, and by letting the values of His Word be the anchor and standard for our lives and families? Will we (dare I say) make a resolution to not live this year, as in years past – without a Saviour, without true hope in the world, and without a sense of certainty for the future, even eternity? Only you can answer this. The world may present us with ever-increasing challenges and its share of yearly chicanery – but God holds the answers to them all. He has always loved us and always will – and in that sense, too, there is nothing new. The Bible says Jesus is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” Our levels of happiness may fluctuate this new year – but what will not, is God’s feelings towards us – and His promise that we can have hope, meaning, peace, as well as eternal security, even in the midst of the hard times! But really: have a Happy New Year!