New Year's Day

A New Year

By Rev. Madison M. VanVeelen, Associate Pastor of Care

There is something hopeful about new. As we say goodbye to 2022 and welcome 2023, we wonder about what is ahead. What new possibilities will the new year bring? New beginnings? We find hope in the idea of a fresh start: This year will be better; this year will be different. This year I will be better. This year I will be different.

Some of us come up with resolutions, goals, or intentions for the new year: practices we want to begin, healthier and more balanced ways of living, things we want to stop or start doing. There is something about a new beginning that gives us the strength and courage to strive for these worthy goals, and in many cases, to try again. January 1, 2023 – this is the day, this is the moment, for that new and fresh start.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with this way of thinking. However, might there be more to this idea of new for us as people of faith? We know that our ‘newness’ doesn’t come from a ‘new year’ at all, but from Christ. Calendar-time is but one aspect of what it means to live in God’s time. In baptism, we are made new in Christ, and as disciples, we are continually being made new in Christ. Like so much of our faith, this truth invites us to live in the reality of the both/and; the simultaneous existence of the already and not yet. We are already made new, and we are still being made new.

The place where I am reminded of this most often is in worship each week. The Prayer of Confession is my weekly reminder that I haven’t gotten there yet, that I have so much growing to do, that I need to recommit myself again and again to Christ’s way of self-giving love and service. There is something within me that yearns for that honesty, and especially for what follows: the Assurance of God’s Grace. This steady rhythm of truth-telling and above all, grace, gives me the hope and courage to try again, to keep going, made new in Christ and always being made new. It’s not a once-ayear chance at a ‘do over,’ but a daily reality and invitation.

What does it mean to you to be made new in Christ? Where do you yearn for newness in your life and in our world?

A prayer: God of new beginnings, we give you thanks that you make all things new. We thank for your grace and mercy which embrace us anew each day. As we embrace a new year, lift us above calendar-time into your time. Expand our vision so that our intentions and hopes might align with your will. Make us grateful for the newness we have in Christ, and make us faithful in pursuing the newness that Christ continually offers. Amen.