Where do we find new beginnings?
The carol service ended, so I entered the crowd armed with mulled wine. Spotting, a student I hadn’t met before, I asked her what she thought.
‘The story’s too big - angels, God, new-born King. It’s not that I don’t believe it, I don’t know. I’m going home to my parents and going out for New Years’.'
‘Why do those things matter to you?’ I asked.
‘Because this year’s been hard, but I like that Christmas doesn’t change – I end every year with the people who know me, and then I throw away my cares on New Years’ eve for a new start!'
‘Fresh starts sound big to me. It doesn’t sound too different to what the angels said Jesus would offer…’
Christmas seems a decade ago now, but this conversation helped me realise something.
For many people, the New Year holds significance as way to welcome in a better year with the people who matter. There’s no overnight magic from the 31st to the 1st, but we all hope for change.
Do these sound like you?
• Frustrated I misspent time last term.
• Dwelling on choices I made last year.
• Disappointed that I keep sinning the same way this year.
Is this your inner voice?
If you feel burdened by the weight of who you’ve been – this January remember the words of the angel to Joseph:
‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ (Matthew 1:21)
Jesus came to suffer for your sins, nailing them to the cross, and removing them as far as the East is from the West! Now we wait for when He returns at the end of this age to welcome the dawn of a new one. In Him, there is perpetual fresh start.
As forgiven people, we live in this joyful freedom and have a future hope which we can offer others.
Because without this gospel, friends may feel the burden of keeping up resolutions, and making all the right choices in 2020, despite being unable to. They’ll hope in self-improvement rather than in a forgiving God. How can we start conversations about the hope that Jesus gives? How can we remind ourselves of this truth and begin the new year with the right priorities?
Why not begin by discussing New Years’ eve with friends, and then think through together:
• How do you wish you did last year differently?
• Why do you think we try to change ourselves this time of year?
These questions are for honesty among friends – a chance to talk about regrets and our inability to change who we most deeply are by ourselves.
Why not share your own answers with friends that you trust? Then share the freedom you’ve found.
Thinking about the conversation I had with the girl I met at the carol service, I wish I had said, ‘I want to be different, too. But over Christmas I was reminded why I believe Jesus came, because I believe God forgives, and gives me hope of a future where it will all be alright. Last year doesn’t need me to dwell on it. It’s really freeing, actually. Have you ever noticed that at Christmas?’
This blog was written by Fearghal Kelly, who studied psychology in Portsmouth, where he now lives working as a Staff Worker for CUs in Portsmouth (UK’s mostly densely populated city) and Chichester (UK’s sunniest city).