Some of you may be reading this before the New Year begins, and some of you perhaps afterwards. But whichever way round it is, for many of us it is a time to celebrate. As the clock chimes midnight, we may well raise our glasses and toast the New Year. You might hear church bells being rung or hear and see fireworks being set off. It is a time to celebrate as we look forward to all that a brand-new year has to offer. Of course, nobody celebrates the coming of a New Year with more style than those who live in Scotland as they celebrate Hogmanay.
The opportunity to make a new start in life often fills us with excitement, and why not? Sometimes the new start might be because we want to put behind us those things which are not good, but it might also be to consolidate those good things and to build on them.
New Year’s Day is exactly one week on from Christmas Day, when we welcomed the Christ child into our world. And in many ways that was a new start too. The Jews had been waiting for their Messiah and although many rejected him, for others this was what they had been waiting for.
In a play, one scene follows on from another. The scenery might change, the actors might change, but the play proceeds, usually, seamlessly. But in the Bible, that is not the case. The Old Testament ends with the book of Malachi and the New Testament begins with the book of Matthew, and the time scale is some 400 years. And in some bibles this gap is represented by a blank page.
When Christ came into our world, it was like a new start. Not perhaps a new year but a new era! He came for you and me, the ordinary people of life.
And in the bible St Paul makes that quite clear in his first letter to Timothy when he writes:
“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
So have a great 2017. If the previous year was not too good for any reason, let’s hope that the new year is more successful. And if 2016 was good, then let’s hope that 2017 is even better.
A very happy New Year to you all!
Licensed Lay Minister and Churchwarden