SERMON 12/31/11 New Year’s Eve
John 1:1-18 In a moment, of personal despair, a dear friend once reminded me that “God offers us all a new beginning every single day.” This night traditionally has been a time when people embrace the fact that they are being offered a new beginning as a result of the new year. Millions will gather on the streets of many cities and wait with anticipation as the clock winds down, and the New Year begins. For many, those last few seconds represent the end of something and the hope of something new. It can be a time for regrets, sadness, joy, celebration, peace, or a plethora of many emotions. In approximately six hours or so, we will join those millions as we say so long to one year, and hello to another beginning. To accept The notion that God offers us all a new beginning every single day of our lives may be a stretch for some, but by God’s grace we are constantly being restored to wholeness. Each day, when we walk in the Spirit, God invites us into new possibilities.
We may struggle though, to leave behind the baggage that comes with us into the new day, and it is this challenge that causes us to fail to live fully into God’s redeeming grace. We carry burdens, past hurts, failures, and junk that hinder us from becoming the recipients of abundant grace, and this was the challenge for someone I once knew, someone just like us. For him, each day was filled with anxiety and fear. The memories of the past haunted him each day. The pain that he had inflicted on others was ever apparent in each moment. Oh yes, he attended church, he gave abundantly, he worked on multiple committees and various ministries, and yet, he could not let go of the baggage he carried. One day in church, something in the sermon, or the prayers, or in the Eucharist, moved him. It was as if a whisper in his ear proclaimed, “All has been forgiven.” The man put down the heavy bags he had been carrying for so long. The next few days, weeks, and months still had moments of anxiety, fear, and regret, but the whisper in his ear remained. “All has been forgiven.” A new day had emerged, each day for him was new. New possibilities emerged and a peace began to pervade his life. The man had finally accepted the free gift of God’s abundant grace, mercy, love, and reconciliation.
Grace had always been present, but his eyes were now opened to its transforming work. Scripture informs us “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” In Christ, we are made whole, our oneness with God is restored, our salvation is complete. Grace upon grace is before us and life is made new. God offers us all a new beginning every single day. We merely have to live into the grace, which is already present in our lives and embrace the promise of God, which is “nothing can stand between us and love of God.” In those upcoming moments, as the ball begins to drop and the seconds tick away and as the 12 o’clock hour approaches, open your ears, open your hearts, open your spirits to the Comforter who is always gently whispering into your ear, “All has been forgiven … Today is a new day.”