Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Finding the Gospel at New Year’s

Introduction:  We come to the end of another year. 365 days have come and gone. In a few hours a New Year dawns. Why come to a service such as this? Is there something or anything spiritual or sacred about pausing to reflect on the events of the past twelve months? Where’s the Gospel in the phrase, “Happy New Year!”?

The Gospel is found in the observance of New Year when we pause and ponder the fact that God is timeless. He’s beyond time – He has a completely different vantage point then we do when it comes to the concept of time. We who are mortal only can evaluate situations from the perspective of past experiences and present circumstances. When we begin to consider the future our prospects and predictions can become suspect. True, the old adage tells us past behaviors predict future outcomes, which is somewhat accurate.

Even as I am speaking to you - at this very moment - the Hoosiers are playing in a bowl game in Tempe, AZ. Thirteen winless seasons produced much frustration. Will the recent past repeat itself producing a similar outcome next year? The future is uncertain!

In the New Year, we citizens in this country will elect a new president. My children have lived under Presidents BUSH, CLINTON, BUSH, CLINTON?  Will the pattern continue? Having only the experiences of the past and only the circumstances of the present can sometimes make our predictions concerning the future uncertain and unclear.

Our Savior who has the perspective and advantage of eternity is the only One able to guide our future as He has the past. He is the only One capable of ordering our days and directing our path. We shouldn’t be surprised at this. The Old Testament trumpets this message clearly in the simple yet profound words of the prophet Malachi when he tells us, “I am the Lord, I change not.” [1]

Our good and gracious God remains faithful to His promises in spite of our history and our past. His Word is much stronger than our weaknesses. God remains faithful to His promises in spite of our history of doubt and unbelief. Have there been moments in this past year in which we are not proud?

Have there been times in this past year of 2007 in which we have not acted as becomes a child of God? The Word defeats sin. The Word who was made flesh defeated sin and destroyed death at a cross on a hill called Calvary. 

For the eternal God knew - that the only way to save and rescue mortal man - was to come down to our level; to enter time and space to live and dwell among us. The eternal Son left His Father’s world and entered our world to redeem and save us. Thus writes the Psalmist, “Thou art the same and Thy years shall have no end.”[2]

There you have it! Finding the Gospel at New Year’s (and throughout the year) is remembering the reality that the Lord is timeless and He will not, nor cannot change. But if there is to be any change in us – if there is to be a future for us – we will have to abide by His will and His ways. Your destiny is to live and dwell with Him, not in a fallen world which is marked by time – but in His world, which is beyond the scope and limits of time and space.

The writer to the Hebrews explains to us clearly, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes and forevermore.”[3]  Jesus is the same yesterday – a clear reference to His time on earth where people became eye-witnesses to His ministry. The time for Jesus to be born was the right time. Everything was planned by the Father’s hand. The God who is timeless decided the time was right to send His Son Jesus into our world to redeem and save it.

These witnesses heard His words and marked His actions, they beheld His glory. They observed Him as He was made known to them - they produced a living testimony – The New Testament – preserved for us by the Holy Spirit for us to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. We posses this testimony in the Scriptures today – use it!

Jesus Christ is the same today. Every word and every action, - everything - what those eyewitnesses said about Jesus is true. Has He not acted for you in this past year of 2007? Has not this single solitary life impacted you?  Where do we find the Savior today?  We find Him in those places only the Father has promised. We find Him in His message of the Gospel. We find Him in the reading of the Inspired Word. We find Him in the waters of Holy Baptism. We find Him in His Meal, in His Words of Absolution, and hidden away in our own hearts.

This good news about Jesus calms our fears, removes our doubts and gives us hope. Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? This is the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.

Jesus is the same yes and forevermore. His promises will always be true. He can not undermine His character and good name. His credibility is at stake. Your future is His concern and His care. As we enter a New Year Godspeed dear child of God – fare thee well into 2008 – fare thee well. 

+Soli Deo Gloria+

[1] Malachi 3:6

[2] Psalm 102:27

[3] Hebrews 13:8

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