Pastor's Message for the New Year
One week a Sunday school teacher had just finished telling her class the Christmas story. After telling the story the teacher asked, "Who do you think the most important woman in the Bible is?”
A little boy raised his hand and said, “Eve.” The teacher asked him why he thought Eve was the most important woman in the Bible. The little boy replied, “Well, there are so many days of the year named after Eve. You know, like Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve…”
Now that we have gotten past New Year’s Eve, we find ourselves here on the first day of the year 2023, known as New Year’s Day.
There is something particularly great about New Year’s Day, and I believe that it is the promising start that a new year brings along with it, a new year in which new and exciting things can happen – new adventures, new challenges, new blessings.
One of the most important themes of the Bible and Christian Theology is newness. The message is that God makes everything new. He created his Creation from nothing and established everything in the universe.
Imagine the life of the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Every joy and wonder of God’s Creation and his presence must have felt so new and amazing to them.
Their encounter with nature and with each other must have felt very fresh and new as well.
It is with this kind of fervor that we greet each New Year. Really, as children of God, we should be greeting each new day, each new hour that God gives us as a thing of wonder and new blessings.
But for whatever reason, the new year triggers in us humans an awareness of a new beginning and new horizons being given to us by our Lord as a gift.
Think back to just a month and a half ago when our Men’s Club held its Super Raffle drawing and pulled the winning ticket for that brand new Mercedes-Benz, which one of ticket buyers now proudly drives around in.
Imagine how new that car – or any car we’ve purchased new – must seem. The way the seats feel, or the steering wheel and all the knobs and buttons are all part of the new experience. The great advancements in technology that new cars sport today all lend to this sense of newness. Lord, even that “new car smell” that everyone can’t seem to get enough of – these all remind us of the wonder and thrill of having something new – a car, in this case, but in really could be anything that we have just purchased new.
Now if I were to ask you how we treat a new car, how would most of us reply? We may have rules like no eating or drinking in the car, or maybe we develop a weekly regimen such as cleaning or polishing the exterior and vacuuming the rugs and floor mats.
We may also be careful not to push the engine to hard by driving too fast, carefully avoid potholes and maybe even park it away from lots of other cars in the parking lot to make sure there are no dings or scratches from other cars or people.
This is kind of what it is like when we enter a New Year. It is something pristine and delicate, something about which we have a sense of needing to take care because it is a precious gift from God.
We enter the New Year with lots of hope, many resolutions to turn over new leaves and much resolve to allow God to make us better people with better and more meaningful lives.
When we first drive that new car off of the lot, we do not immediately start tossing our muddy work boots on the back seat throwing sticky change in the change drawer, taking our raked leaves and grass clippings to the dump or chowing down on fast food, leaving straw wrappers and stray French fries to fall all over the floor!
In the same way, we don’t want to hop into a New Year with the same old and messy habits from our old lives. Driving into our new year should be done with same fascination and delicacy with which we drive that new car.
And we should be just as resolved to keep our lives clean and pristine in the new year. We should renew our resolve to be grateful to God, even when circumstances are difficult.
We should strengthen our commitment to studying the Bible and following our Lord’s commandments.
We should become more devoted to Jesus Christ by getting in the habit of praying every day and coming to church to worship as often as we can.
A New Year calls for us to renew our relationship with God, start new endeavors and become new people.
My New Year’s prayer for all of us today is that we would enter the year 2023 with a sense of awe, joy and gratitude toward God, that we would be inspired by his “newness” and that we would spend the rest of the year getting closer to him.
Let’s all pray together for health, blessings and success of all this year’s endeavors.
May God bless you and your families, our church, our Armenian nation and our people worldwide. May he bless your lives and keep you in good health.
Fr. Stephan Baljian, Pastor
New Year 2023