Monday: 9:00am - 2:00pm
Tuesday: 9:00am - 2:00pm
Wednesday: 9:00am - 2:00pm
Thursday: 9:00am - 2:00pm
Sunday: 8:30am - 1:00pm
Traditional: 8:45 AM Sunday
Contemporary: 11:00 AM Sunday
Refuel Your Faith: 6:30 PM Wednesday
As we dive into a new year, I ran across an excellent article by Kyle Jones, All Saints’ former Youth and Family Ministry Director. It was first published around the new year in 2017. This is a great article, shaping our perspective around forgiveness rather than human achievement. I commend it to you again, in this January of 2020!
We end and start the year all wrong. I don’t mean fireworks, parties, and countdowns. I don’t mean lip syncing either, although that’s all sorts of wrong. I mean resolutions and the sentiment behind them.
New Year’s resolutions aren’t evil. They stem from the hope of a fresh start; a chance to start over; a chance to do things better than the year before.
Though beneficial, resolutions focus on us. We try to change things: make healthier choices, curse less, read Scripture more. But, we get tricked. We begin to believe that we can earn a little of God’s favor too. “See God…I am good. I’m improved. You didn’t waste your time saving this sinner.”
God gave his people a new year far different from our new year’s resolutions. The beginning of our year demands “do more,” “be better,” “make a change.” The message of God’s new year speaks the opposite.
Before God enacted the final plague against the Egyptians, He came to Moses and Aaron and said “This month shall be for you the beginning of the months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2)
He gave them instructions for celebrating the Passover. Take a lamb, an unblemished male, a year old and kill it. Spread its blood on the doorposts as a sign. Roast the lamb. Eat it, in haste, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Wear your belt and your sandals, have your staff in hand.
“When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord… And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13–14, 17)
The new year celebration God established for His people did not celebrate how good they were, or how well they worshiped God in the midst of suffering. It celebrated God’s salvific work on their behalf. It celebrated their absolution as God’s judgment passed over them.
“And when your children say to you. ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you will say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” (Exodus 12:26–27, emphasis mine)
Jesus took this Passover, a new year celebration of one people’s salvation history, and made it for all people. He took bread, broke it, blessed it, and gave it to the disciples. “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27–28, emphasis mine) Jesus set up a new year celebration, based not on the works of His followers, but upon the salvific work He was about to complete on the cross. A salvation attached to His body and blood. An everlasting salvation rooted in absolution of the word’s sins — past, present, and future.
God’s new year doesn’t call for our resolve to be better. It doesn’t call us to set greater goals than last year, spiritual or otherwise. Instead, God’s new year speaks grace and mercy. God’s new year proclaims us absolved. God’s new year says, “It is finished.” “I rescued you out of slavery to sin because you could not free yourselves.” “You were dead and I made you alive in me.” God’s new year says, “Take heart, my [child]; your sins are forgiven.”
In the grace, mercy, and peace of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
-Kyle G Jones