“And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” – Revelation 21:5
Dear Friends in Christ:
Another Christmas Day has come and gone, along with all the Services, carols, and family gatherings. Even though the Christmas Season lasts 12 days (The Twelve Days of Christmas), the public decorations quickly disappear and the world’s attention turns to the changing year. 2019 is a big one because it is a so-called “rollover year” – in other years, nineteen rolls over into twenty. There was “2020” merchandise everything: hats, streamers, noisemakers, balloons – even those plastic “2020” sunglasses have a marvelous symmetry! And the newness doesn’t stop with the calendar – as the world will tell you: 2020 is going to be the time for you to renew yourself!
You have heard it before: “New Year; New You!” Make a resolution, the world tells us: Perhaps you should refresh your image in the fashion department. Maybe lose some weight. You might resolve to learn a new language or to travel. That is what the world will suggest. The world will also tell you that the only thing keeping you from becoming that better you is your own fear, or your lack of confidence: New Year; New You!
So how do you think that will work out for you? Will every promise the world makes come true? No. And it should not surprise anyone. “Change and decay in all around I see…” wrote the hymn-writer, and it happens to each of us. Even when we do learn something new, or experience something that changes us for the better, and even when we lose (or gain) some weight, it does not ultimately change the big picture. It does not undo the work of the devil, sin, and death. Sin’s wages always come due, and we all pay that price.
The last year was a challenging year for our congregation. We saw our Parish School close after 59 years, and mourned that loss, as we see things changing around us in our culture, in our communities, even in our families, as fewer people are committed to Christ and hearing the Good News of Salvation that is found in Him. Indeed, when we look at our own sin and the sinfulness of this fallen world it can seem dark and depressing, but there is hope for everyone.
There is hope for every person because God, our Father, has sent His Son in human flesh to rescue us from all the evils of this world, from the devil, and even from our own sinfulness! That Good News if for you and for all! And that Good News is the news that this congregation is here to proclaim. He has sent Jesus Christ in human flesh to defeat death, to take the penalty for our sin upon Himself. Christ did that, dying on the cross, and three days later He rose from the dead! And the Father and Son together send the Holy Spirit to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify us in the one true Faith along with all other believers in Christ, His Holy Christian Church.
And this hope is not for this life only; it is a promise of even better things to come. On the Last Day, Christ will raise each and every one of you and all the dead, and give eternal life to you and all believers in Christ. Behold, He will make you and me – and all things – new! It will be unlike anything we have ever known and better than anything we could ever imagine! The world exhorts you to make yourself into a ‘new you’ every New Year, but the Lord’s promise to you – delivered by His gifts of Word and water, Body and Blood, promise a forever you. Forgiven of all your sins by Jesus, you have life and salvation, and that means you have the hope of everlasting life. No matter the disappointments of this broken world, no matter the things others have done that have hurt you, no matter even the things you have done to yourself, you are forgiven in Christ, and in Him you have hope.
And that Good News continues to be proclaimed. It is being proclaimed all over the world, and people are still coming to Faith in Jesus, as they always will until the end of time. And that Good News is being proclaimed here at the corner of 53rd and Major, and that will continue, as well. The One who makes all things new continues His saving work!
So is it all about “New Year; New You”? No, thanks. Rather, in Christ, you have New Life through His Word and Holy Sacraments as His belovéd children, now and forever.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Steven J. Anderson