It's a new year ... a new decade ... a new century ... really, even a new millennium.
So, are this year's resolutions any more important or profound than those of previous years? Probably not. And are you or I any more likely to keep them? Probably not.
Even so, for some reason it seems like a good time to take stock of our lives and consider making changes. If we are truly serious about making a change, God is both able and willing to provide the strength and the stamina we need to actually have it happen. After all, God has been in the business of changing lives for a long time!
For God's chosen people (Israel) the "New Year" came at the same time as the "Day of Atonement." It truly signified a new beginning, a chance to start again. Every year the priest brought the sacrifice for the people before the Lord and pronounced God's atonement for all the sins, for all the people, for the entire year. Forgiveness! A clean slate! Starting over!
Furthermore, individuals met with one another and sought reconciliation and forgiveness for whatever may have happened during the previous year causing strain and brokeness in their relationships. Husbands and wives, parents and children, co-workers, neighbors, friends ... all were reunited through the atoning work of God that their relationships may be restored and they may "begin again."
Perhaps you need a chance to "start over" with someone you love. Perhaps you need a chance to "start over" with God. Today is a good day to start over.
One of my seminary professors was asked by a student whether he had been "born again." With great wisdom and tremendous insight into the Gospel, the professor answered, "Yes, my son, I have been 'born again.' ... and again and again ...!"
"You see," he said, "being born again through the grace of our Lord Jesus is not a one-time event. Rather, it is a lifetime of being forgiven again and again and again. It is living daily in the love and renewing forgiveness that only Jesus offers. Each new day, each passing moment, it is starting over in the mercy and by the grace of God. Every time I stumble, He picks me up and 'we' begin again!"
I've never forgotten what that professor said. It has been a great word of encouragement and hope to me at many crossroads in my life. It echoes in my memory again today as I face another "new" year.
Wouldn't you like to start over today? Today IS a good day to start over! Accept God's forgiveness to all who have hurt or offended you in any way. Start over, again, today.
Have a blessed New Year.
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