“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) How many times have you heard that text quoted in January? A gazillion or more? Probably. “Surely,” you think, “preachers ought to be able to find some other text for beginning a new year.” Well, you’re right. There are plenty of “other” texts for this month. I just don’t think there are any “better” ones.
The hope inherent in a new year is that things can be made new... and not just things, but also people... and not just people in general, but also us as individuals. There’s an old adage: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it `the Present’.” Cliched? Sure. But it is also true. When January rolls around each year, we are given the gift of the Present. And in January that Present is unsoiled by what has gone before and unstressed by what may yet come. For a wonderful month, everything is now and everything is new.
Has love failed in the past? Well, it’s a new year with new possibilities to love or be loved again. Has a professional choice proved to be unwise in the past? Again, it’s a new year with new possibilities for different jobs or work opportunities. Have we failed in some moral or ethical way in the past? Okay, we’re not perfect, but this is a new year with new possibilities to do right what we once did wrong. Have we allowed ourselves to be held captive by worry or fear or negativity in the past? This is a new year with new possibilities to change perspectives, to see glasses half full, and to embrace blessings that have been available all along but heretofore were simply unnoticed. Have we lost a friendship? We now have the chance to make new ones. Have we felt estranged from God? We now have an opportunity to invest ourselves anew in things like church, Bible study, prayer, meditation, journaling, or small groups. Have we felt overwhelmed by life and too small to withstand the world’s daily onslaughts? Now we have the chance to align ourselves with an Eternal Power beyond us that is bigger than whatever momentary powers threaten us.
“Behold, I make all things new.” New starts. New perspectives. New dreams. New relationships. New resolves. New hope. New chances. New commitments. New depths of personal faith due to a new openness to the transforming and redeeming presence of God. In January, we are given the gift of the Present... and the freedom to determine how to use it. 2018 can be merely “more of the same.” Or, we can choose to be partners with a biblical promise which is literally life-changing: “Behold, I make all things new.”