For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
I like the notion of “fresh starts” and “second chances.” How about you?
Was last year a tough one at work? Did you lose a job? Have to move your family from a place everybody really liked to a new location? One way to cope is to think of what you can gain rather than what you’ve lost. Focus on what to learn from the experience to help you move forward. Make some new friends.
Is an important relationship in trouble? Did someone you love die? Are you worried about the bad-attitude friends your child has made? Maybe you need to look at these things through fresh eyes and with hope.
A sense of brokenness is the first step to renewal and healing. So it isn’t a bad thing to lament our losses. But it is a bad thing to spend the rest of your life looking over a shoulder to the past instead of lifting your eyes to the future.
I see the turning of the calendar to a new year as a big deal. Doesn’t the idea of a clean slate appeal to you too? Doesn’t the chance to start over sound great? But I’m not suggesting that you make a long list of New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I would advise against it.
Long lists are intimidating and frustrating. Most resolutions are too vague – reduce stress, save more money, be more helpful at home. And the notion of pledging to do something for 365 days is tough on people who are honest about just how often failure visits them. Perhaps there is a better way.
Remember the advice Jesus gave about just taking care of today and not biting off tomorrow’s troubles?
- “Each day has challenges enough of its own!” he said.
Think about it, and you will realize that your own experience confirms it.
New Year 2011 is God’s present to you. With his presence and in one-day-at-a-time attitude, creative new things will come out of the waste-and-void chaos of the past. And life will become fresh every morning.
Let us pray:
Father, Give us a new year. Not just a new number, but a truly new year. Give us a year full of new things, new adventures, new attitudes, and visions. Lord, give us a new year full of new ideas and refresh some of our old ideas. Give us new relationships and renew old relationships, and restore relationships that have been broken.
Father, give us a new year. Give us a new song. Give us a new memory. Give us a new image of Your Son, and help us to show His image of those who are new to You. Give us new thoughts, new friends, and new things that replace the old worn-out things.
Father, give us a new year. The year that has just ended was difficult for some of us. There were struggles and frustrations and disappointments that we did not handle so well. Give us a better mentality and better spiritual insight that will help us deal with the struggles, frustrations and disappointments that will come in this New Year.
Father, give us a new year. Give us a year filled with new ministries, new opportunities, new voices, and new messages. Help us hold on to the old things that are worth holding, and help us let go of the old things that have served their purpose.
Father, give us a new year. Give us a year that is not controlled by fear. A year in which we are not afraid of people who are different. A year when we are not afraid of ideas that are new, of plans that are new, and places that are new.
Father, give us a new year. Give us a year filled with new love. A new love for You. A new love for each other. A new love for Your Kingdom. A new love for strangers. A new love for the helpless. A new love for the needy. A new love for poor. A new love for rich. A new love for all people.
Father, give us a new year. Help us put the old one to bed. Help us to leave the things of the past in the past. Help us look forward. Help us look beyond what we can see to what You have planned for us that we cannot see. Help us move forward with confidence and courage and humility and gentleness.
Father, give us a new year. Help us, in this New Year to completely surrender to You and what You have planned for us in this year filled with new things.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church, 9 January 2011