A new gift, a new semester, a new year; all have a positive ring about them don’t they? The word, “new” is one of advertisers top ten list of powerful words. New implies improved, better, and cutting edge. New means, not living in the past, but right now and with the most current advantages and opportunities. There is a longing in us for newness.
I suspect this desire for newness is not new however. Most ancient cultures and religions, including Hebrew and Christian peoples, had some way of marking time and specifically of celebrating a new year. Most of the rituals around the New Year’s celebrations involved a letting go of the past, coming to terms with the realities of the last year, finding atonement for sins of the past year so that there was freedom to move on into a new year with hope. No wonder this “newness” thing is so powerful.
In modern times there are still hints of the ancient cultures and religions as we look ahead to a new year. There is a host of articles and stories about “resolutions” and whether anyone keeps them for more than a day or two. For all the negative press these resolutions get, the fact is, people are still making resolutions, both publically and privately. “This year, I will loss weight and get exercise.” “This year, I will be kinder to people.” “This year I will simplify and spend less.” “This year I will get the job I always wanted.” Whatever the particulars, each resolution involves a looking back at the past and a vision for a different and new future. Our need for newness may just be connected to our strong need for hope.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” For those who might be looking for a new life and a great change, this verse is an invitation to a life that flows out of a different starting point. Seeing Jesus Christ as the one controls your life, your decisions, and empowers you to live differently will indeed change your life more than anything else in this new year. For those who are Christians and desire to follow Jesus, it is good to be reminded that new life is always a gift that comes from the hand of God, through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. It is easy to get side tracked and believe our efforts and work alone can change us and world around us.
So here’s a pray to start a new year that is looking ahead to the new life that comes through our Lord Jesus. “Lord Jesus, I thank you for the life that you give. Forgive me for the intentional and unintentional sins and disobediences of the last year. Free me, to live a new life through the power that rose Jesus from the dead. Free me to live the full and abundant life you created me to live to the glory of God and the blessing of all the people I touch throughout the coming year.”