Messages for a New Year
Five Messages for a New Year
By Pastor Gary Lewis
The Lord has led me to five topics to preach on – four really, two of the messages are about grace – as we say “so long” to 2020 and say “hello” to 2021. Some would rather say “good riddance” to the past 12 months. However, many people marked milestones – births, weddings, graduation – so we need to remember the good times last year brought to us.
I am going to begin with a message about grace. Grace is our anchor in the stormy seas of life; grace is the balm that reduces the friction in relationships. Grace is what binds us together as a church family. On Jan. 3, 2020, I plan to begin with John 1.
You would have a hard time writing a children’s Christmas pageant based on John’s gospel. No color, music or pageantry … just John’s vision of light piercing the darkness of life in the dead of winter.
This truth reminds me that we don’t need to have a perfect Christmas. All we need is to encounter the One at the heart of the celebration. Our purpose is to celebrate in Christ.
“What has come into being in him was life …” (John 1:3b-4a)
Soon, we will be packing up the Christmas decorations (if you haven’t already). The artificial tree will be dismantled branch-by-branch – or the real one dragged out, trailing dry brown needles in its wake. The ornaments will be sorted into portioned containers, where they will endure a drab existence in the attic for the next 11 months.
If you read carefully in John 1, though, you will find a third Christmas story. It lacks the star power of the magi in Matthew and the angels and shepherds in Luke. It still tells the story of Christmas, though, with the powerful image of a single candle.
No matter how tall the ceiling, or how dark a room can be, a single candle can overcome the black shroud. The darkness will be pierced, shoved back by the one thing that has power, ultimately, to push all darkness back: the light.
This light represents the life that has come into being at Christmas. The light embodies the grace, the prevenient grace that sweeps across the land because of Jesus. Here’s where John’s vision of life in the dead of winter, of a glowing candle piercing the darkness, is so powerful. You don’t need to have had a perfect Christmas. You don’t need to have received the gift you always wanted. You don’t even need to have celebrated Christmas at all.
All you need is to have encountered the One at the heart of the celebration – Jesus Christ. May you receive him in 2021 and may his grace grow in your heart.