Allow me to begin this epistle by extending to all of you my prayer for a blessed and happy New Year. A New Year, someone said, is like a vast uncharted sea. We have the opportunity to make a new start as individuals and as a church. The theme I am suggesting as we open this year is “All In!” I pray that we will be all in for Jesus in 2016; all in with our time, with our energy, with our love, with our money, with our ministry, and with our mission. I will be speaking on this theme on the very first Sunday of 2016. My message will be based on Matthew 2:1-12 and we will reflect on making Jesus the Lord of our lives.
I know that most of us use calendars on our phones or I-pads now, but I can’t help but remember the old image of two calendars side by side; the old and the new. The old calendar is tattered and torn. It is covered by coffee spills, and notes, and ink smeared appointments. The old calendar is a symbol for old appointments met and kept. It is a symbol of times and places we thought important, and our priorities for the past 12 months.
But next to the old calendar is the new calendar. It is clean and white and bright. We won’t find any notes, or coffee spills, or smeared ink on this calendar. This new calendar represents that which is new. It represents the opportunities and possibilities that await us as we move into that strange land that is our future. Perhaps it also affords us the opportunity to use our time more wisely in the pursuit of matters that are truly important, to live as God calls us to live.
As one year ends and a new one begins, I am often reminded of Howard Thurman’s free-verse poem, "The Work of Christmas,” which is about the challenge of taking Christmas beyond December 25:
When the song of the angel is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes
are home. When the shepherds are back with their flocks; The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people, To make music in the heart . . . .
If we can do these things, then we can keep the Christ in Christmas, and the future will be bright.
Let’s be “All In” in 2016!
With gratitude for the past year, and hope for the future,
Pastor Joel Hawthorne