Will it Feel Like a New Year?

Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,

“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20–21)

Happy New Year!

January 1st not only marks the beginning of a new year, it also gives us a chance to reset our habits and our focus. Every time we flip our calendar to January 1st, we see 365 days of opportunity before us, and we can’t help but feel optimistic.

I wonder if this January is going to feel different. This year, as we flip the calendar will still be in the middle of a pandemic. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray repeats the same day over and over and over. The joke from 2020 is going to feel true, the one that shows us turning the calendar over from December 31st, 2020 only to find the new day is marked December 32nd ,2020!

It doesn’t matter what you believe about the pandemic, 2021 will begin like 2020 ends. If we are not already worn out by this, I think January may push us to that point!

If you think about it, this isn’t so different from any other year. Every year we turn the calendar with optimism of a new start, but it’s never as fresh as we would like. Our personal history and our present circumstance seem to put a drag on our future dreams. We start the year struggling with the same sins, having the same family struggles, the same financial and job challenges, with our own weaknesses and beliefs from the year before. Although our resolve to start the new year may be different, change takes time, habits take time to shift, and we enter the new year very much the same as the year before. Maybe this is the reason that most resolutions don’t last long into the new year.

Even when we make changes, it doesn’t feel like the changes are making a difference. But they do! God changes us as we respond to Him by faith.

So what are we to do? It’s not the change of calendar that makes the biggest difference, it is the change that happens within us. And yet, this change is often slower than we want it to be.

It seems likely that the pandemic will wane as more and more people get vaccinated. We certainly pray this is the case! It may not feel different in January, but things are moving in the right direction, even if it is very slowly. It takes time for firefighters to control a raging wildfire, but they do eventually.

While we wait for these windows to open, we are called to patience, and faithfulness throughout. We must search the Scripture, pray and draw near to the Lord. We can connect with our family, and look out for the needs of others in our community. There are things we can do. Small faithful actions make a difference. While we are here, let’s make the most of it by being faithful.

It is the same with the slowness of change in our lives. If we desire to grow spiritually in 2021, we must learn to trust God to take our sins away, learn to confess them honestly and endeavor to walk faithfully by the power of the Holy Spirit. We know we must strengthen our minds in the word of God, be prayerful in all things, and believe that God will change us over time (Philippians 1:6).

So as 2020 switches to 2021, and you make the changes God calls you to make, remember that even if you don’t see things change right away, God is faithful to bring change over time. Let us seek the Lord faithfully, learning patience, learning persistence, and seeing how He works.

Faithfully Yours,

Pastor Sean