“See you next year!” I exclaimed as students were leaving my classroom on the last day of school before Winter Break. I wouldn't see see them again until 2018.
With the coming of the new year I find myself pondering the concept of new beginnings. As a science teacher, I teach my students that all the cells in our bodies except neurons go through a continuous cycle of dying then being replaced. Throughout our lives our bodies are constantly experiencing new beginnings. So, in a biological sense it’s true that we aren’t who we used to be.
As a person of faith, I believe that God’s promise revealed to John of Patmos, “See, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21: 5, NRSV), isn’t just in reference to the return of Jesus Christ. I think it is also God’s assurance that throughout our lives God is actively involved in the countless new beginnings that help to strengthen our faith. We are renewed daily in many ways. We might encounter scripture through a new lens, perhaps we’ll be transformed by a new experience, or maybe we’ll receive fresh insight through the words of a stranger. As the result of these interactions we can declare that in a spiritual sense, just as in a biological sense, we truly aren’t ever who we used to be. Thanks be to God!
Many people have the tradition of making a New Year’s resolution on January 1. New Year’s resolutions typically involve some sort of action — beginning to do something or doing something less frequently. More often than not, these resolutions fail within the first couple months. In 2018 instead of resolving to do something new or different, let’s pray that we mature in faith and more closely resemble the people God wants us to be. Let’s acknowledge and accept our many new beginnings so that next December we can reflect back on the year and thank God that through Jesus Christ we’re not the people we used to be. Happy New Year, everyone!
The United Methodist Church in Honduras uses El Aposento Elto, the Spanish language version of The Upper Room daily devotional to start new faith communities. They use "An Easy Plan to Use The Upper Room in Small Groups" found in the back of the magazine. As the groups grow, they build critical mass for new church starts.