“Go tell it on the mountain; over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.”
As a New Year unfolds, have you made or intend to make resolutions for the New Year? This was a big trend when I was young. I would hear ‘grown-ups’ make resolutions for the New Year which I never understood. When I became an adult, I never heard many people discuss resolutions, but I did witness their effects. In my 20’s, I attended a health club at least four times a week. I arrived at the same time each day so I knew most of the people who were there; we were regulars. But after January 1st, a strange phenomenon would occur - a boatload of new people would arrive who had made New Year’s resolutions about getting in shape and thus had bought gym memberships. This time of the year, with the arrival of these newbies, really irritated me due to logistical reasons. The gym was located in the midst of a series of busy corporate offices in New Jersey, two minutes from the George Washington Bridge, so it was bustling with lots of cars and limited parking. With these new members, parking became very difficult; the gym became crowded, dirty and smelly. But like most resolutions, these newbies often didn’t last. Usually around Valentine’s Day, something strange happened. The gym emptied of all these new people and the norm would return. And I would stop being grouchy about not getting a parking spot.
Are we like that with our relationship with God? We soon will be concluding the season of Christmas, but with the removal of the trimmings, will Jesus be removed too? Let’s begin with expectations. What is it you want God to do in the New Year? What is at the heart of your requests? Are your requests for the kingdom and its glory, or are they only for yourself? But there is another perspective to consider: what part do you play in these requests? What I mean is: what does God want you to do?
What if I suggested this Year, don’t do something new: do not make any resolutions at all!!! But wait; I am not letting you off the hook! Instead, what if you revisited the Covenant God has made with us through Jesus Christ? Think of what we have celebrated and where we have been through the Advent and Christmas season. We saw God’s promise turn into reality. Long before the existence of the world, God had made a covenant; within the Trinity. The Second Person of the Trinity, The Son, would leave the side of the Father and become The God/Man incarnate. This was the hope of Israel as they had long been promised by God a new song. This promise was the expectation of Israel throughout its long and difficult existence.
So what is this covenant we are to remember and rejoice? The beginning of our covenantal relationship with God only begins with Christmas. Let us start there. Jesus Christ is the promise of redemption fulfilled. In the fullness of time, Jesus was born of Mary in Bethlehem. This is not just an event in history; it is the most important event in history! Up until Jesus’ birth, the whole of history was waiting for this moment. So what is this covenant and what am I asking us to renew this New Year? The new covenant is our relationship with Jesus Christ. One of the most visible signs is through the Sacrament of Communion. This Sacrament was initiated by Jesus during the Last Supper.
Consider what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 about that first, “Last Supper.”
“For I received from the Lord what I also deliver to you. That on the night he was betrayed took
bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said ‘This is my body which is for you. Do
this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup, after supper, saying
'This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again.’
In this New Year, each and every believer needs to remember what Christ did for you. The Christian walk is never about sitting on one’s laurels; we need to remember, but we also must heed the call. Don’t sit on the sidelines - don’t just come to church on Sunday and then take the message with you the rest of the week. In an age of identity, an affiliation being at the forefront of everything, we need to remind ourselves of our affiliation. We belong to God through Christ! With our new identities, what does God want us to do? We are called to be the hands and feet of God here on earth. The tasks are at hand: help the poor, feed the hungry, console the down-cast! Live out the covenant with power, purpose and assurance that is promised to each believer through the Holy Spirit. If not us, then who will show the world that Jesus Christ is the Savior?
The tasks at hand may seem great, but take heart, we have a great and wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world. Face the New Year with faith, hope and optimism, knowing you do not go it alone. And then expect great things through the power of the King of Kings!
Happy New Year!