Happy New Year to all those who read this blog!
But what is it that will make 2018 a New Year? (Other than, of course, the change of date.) After all, soon we will be returning to our ordinary business lives. We may have resolved to do a few things differently, but in most cases we will be quickly back in the old familiar routine. We may well be bringing into the New Year the same worries, cares and regrets that we had at the end of the previous year. There may well be the same difficulties and challenges before us that we faced in 2017.
So how can we make the New Year “New”? Yesterday in our morning service I invited anyone who wanted to leave something behind in 2017 to write it on a piece of red paper and lay it at the foot the cross. I have now taken these pieces of paper home and destroyed them. Because the very simple point I wanted to make is that in Jesus, a fresh start really is possible.
You see, that sweet child born in a manger came to lay down His life for you and for me, by bearing on His shoulders all our sin and sorrow and shame. This means that when we come to Him, humbly and in faith, He will deal with whatever is weighing us down once and for all. As the Son of God who died for us, He has the power to set us free and to restore us to that life with God the Father we were always meant to enjoy. All we need to do is turn to Him.
But how do we know Jesus is able to deal with my sin, my sorrow, my shame? One of the names given to the devil in the Bible is Satan, which means accuser. We all know that little voice which whispers to us that whatever we have done can never forgiven, that whatever sorrow we experience is too great to be comforted. Yet the proof of Jesus’ victory is that He gives to all who call on His name the gift of the Holy Spirit. As it says in the Bible, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17)
This doesn’t mean that our lives instantly become easier when we turn to Christ. But it means that at the very deepest level we have the Holy Spirit living within us, confirming our identity as a child of God, able to make God’s forgiveness real when, inevitably, we make a mess of things, guaranteeing that one day we will be able to stand before Jesus when He comes again.
So if today you want to make 2018 a New Year, then make it your resolution to turn to Jesus. Ask Him to give you the fresh start you need. And come and join us at St Barnacles as we try to work out what it means to follow Jesus through the coming twelve months. Let’s make 2018 a year where together we help one another live and grow in the power of the Holy Spirit so that many others too discovering the renewing power of Jesus’ name.
Our journey with Jesus this year starts on Sunday 7th January at 10.30am. If you aren’t already part of St Barnacles, or haven’t been for a while, let me invite you to be part of our story in 2018. And let’s look together forward with anticipation to all the Lord is going to do! It’s going to be an exciting year…