The New Year
by Seattle ALC
The New Year
As we welcome each new year, we tend to linger between two thoughts. On the one hand, we look back in retrospect on the year that is passing. On the other, we look forward in anticipation to the new year that is just dawning.
From my early youth, I remember the special feelings which would fill my entire being on New Year’s Eve. It seemed that I could not pass this milestone without a certain amount of regret filling my heart. There was a sense of remorse over the failures of the year–my inability to keep rightly the· resolutions which I conscientiously and prayerfully made at the year’s beginning. As I thought upon the new year and the opportunities it would provide, it seemed that I wanted to live so carefully–to walk so cautiously–that I would not again immediately put the stain of sin upon this new, clean and beautiful page of life which the Lord was opening before me. However, when not yet many hours into the new year, to my dismay I would again find that although the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. It would become necessary to renew my heart with the comfort of the words of St, John: “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)
Dear friends, as we enter this new year, let us remember to take the Name of Jesus with us because it will give us joy and comfort wherever we go. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do al-l in the name of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col. 3: 17)
Let us not carry with us from last year any conscience matters that would be a hindrance to us in this new year. Rather, let us leave the sins of the past at the throne of grace, remembering the Biblical counsel to “lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2)
To speak a little more directly of conscience matters, many which involve our inter relationships, let us pause and consider our walk. Where we have been harsh and uncaring; where we have been cold and indifferent; where we have been selfish, judgmental, and faultfinding; where we have committed the sins of the tongue–backbiting, slandering, evil speaking, bearing false witness–, where we have been unforgiving, harboring bitterness and envy; where we have thought of ourselves more highly than we ought to think (Rom. 12: 3), being proud and unyielding, looking down on our brethren and not seeing them in the light of Calvary and the redemptive work of Christ; where we have yielded to fleshly temptations: yes, wherever we have sinned, let us hasten to the fountain of cleansing which is open for sin and all uncleanness. (Zech.13: 1) Then we can more freely run the race that is set before us.
This verse of Scripture reminds us that our time here is not to be spent in carefree living as one would meander through a peaceful meadow. We are on a race, and not one of our own choosing. It has been set before us by the love and grace of the Almighty. We cannot run this race with the desired degree of success if our spiritual health is hindered by these burdens that are so inappropriate for the children of God. If in the light of God’s Word, we find that we are not properly outfitted for this race, our gracious Lord has not left us without remedy. He wants to reopen our eyes to the provision which He made at the supper table in the upper room when He instituted the holy supper.
As He washed His disciples’ feet, Jesus said: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than His lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy (blessed) are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:14-17)
Let us enter this new year relieved of all the burdens of sin, having faith and a good conscience, so that we may walk in charity with God and with our fellow men. (Rom, 12: 18) The Lord goes so far in His concern for this true harmony in His church that He taught His disciples to go one step beyond the care of their own consciences when He said” “Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift.” ( Matt. 5: 23-24)
The Lord’s promise is that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” (I John 1: 7)
From the Archives of the late Pastor A. C. Holmgren January 1989
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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