We all know that the start of a new year is an artificial marker. It helps to keep time, but January 1 is not really different from December 31 in any way that makes it brand new. Still, January does bring a sense of “newness.” Schools start a new semester. Terms of office often begin. A new wage cycle starts at work. This year, January will bring a newly ordained pastor to Faith Lutheran. (Pastor Dave will be ordained on Sun.Jan. 5 at 2pm.)
There is more to it than that, though. A new year inspires hope for changes that were not possible before—new courage to face fears, new motivation to change bad habits, new drive to accomplish goals. That is why people make New Year’s resolutions, even though most are infamously short-lived. We hope, even if we don’t fully expect, that a new year will turn past failures into success.
Those are all worthwhile efforts. Hope is always good. Yet, the very reason we keep trying and hoping is because we know that how terribly hard it is to change. Think of all the adages that testify to that: “What goes around comes around.” “A leopard can’t change his spots.” “There’s nothing new under the sun.” “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Christianity recognizes that this struggle to change is part of our sinful condition and knows that self-improvement and positive thinking are not enough. We need a Savior, a Rescuer, who will forgive our sins and make us new.
That is exactly what God promised in Revelation 21. As “the new Jerusalem (came) down out of heaven from God,” He declared: “See, I am making all things new.”
That is what God does. He makes all things new—including you and me. He changes sinners into saints, doubters into believers, rebels into followers. God turns our old, resistant selves into new creatures in Christ, and he does it every day, not just at the start of a new year.
So as 2014 begins, make at least one New Year’s resolution—to start or to continue. Spend time every day in God’s Word. Come to worship each week (at Faith or wherever you may be). Pray to God about every joy and struggle. For through those means, the Holy Spirit will fulfill this promise in your life over and over again: “See, I am making all things new.”
Grace and peace,