The Christmas season, with all its brilliance and merriment, is fast fading and the festive celebration of a New Year is just around the corner. It’s a great time for putting our burdens and cares behind and looking forward to renewed hope and endless possibilities for revitalization and prosperity.
For some, this idea of renewed hope doesn’t seem like a possibility. The passing of a loved one, the loss of homes and property by fire, and the fear of not being safe are just a few examples that can dampen our spirits. But there is hope for new beginnings for everyone.
In reply to Christ Jesus’ encouragement to be “born again,” Nicodemus, a Pharisee who recognized Jesus as “a teacher come from God,” asked him, “How can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus explained that a man had to be “born of water and of the Spirit” (John 3:4-5). For me this means continued new beginnings — a spiritual rebirth through the teachings of Jesus and a change in thought from old ways of thinking to new ways of doing.
One example of this was the apostle Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers whose encounter with Christ by way of a blinding “light from heaven” led to a complete turnaround in his character. Eventually he became a major proponent of Jesus, writing to a group of early Christians living in Corinth, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17) — an unmistakable reference to his own conversion years earlier.
When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was sick, he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4), an acknowledgement of the new beginnings that await all those who put their trust in the Divine.
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Jesus acknowledged and honored God’s power to heal and save, and asked his disciples — both then and now — to do the same. He said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12).
One definition of disciple is, “any follower of Christ.” Today there are many following Jesus Christ and finding the joy and happiness of a Christian way of life. This includes healings of disease, sin, and lack, as well as loving and helping our neighbors.
A poem written by Christopher Wordsworth in the Christian Science hymnal has a powerful message of comfort and restoration. It says, in part, “Love is true solace and giveth joy for sorrow, –/O, in that light, all earthly loss is gain;/Joy must endure, Love’s giving is forever;/Life is of God, whose radiance cannot wane” (Hymn. 174:2).
As we look forward to the New Year, we can be assured of God’s help for new beginnings and all the blessings they bestow. “Glory be to God.”