Christian New Year – Dr. Coleman Explains

Christian New YearFor Christians All Over The World – It’s Happy New Year!

The New Year has come and gone. Much disparity covers the earth but Christians still have many things to be thankful for. Dr. Coleman writes an insightful version of the Christian New Year and I hope you will reflect on his words. – Bob

Yet Another Christian New Year

It’s that time again – wow! Time flies! It seems the year just got started and here we are again saying “Happy New Year” and watching the ball drop at Time Square.

The usual cartoon drawings are featured in the January 1 newspapers — “Old Father Time” leaving the world’s stage and the “Infant Year” coming joyfully onto the stage.

The month January is named for the Greek god Janus who is always pictured with two faces, one looking back and one looking forward, a likely description indeed.

For it is at this time of year that we look back – with joy, sadness, regret, whatever – and forward into the unknown future of the New Year. We make our resolutions and hope, no matter what the last year was, that this year will be better.

Resolutions like: exercise more, lose some weight, read my Bible everyday, pray more, be more faithful to the church, and on and on we go. For Christians, the New Year many times begins with special worship at the church.

We pray, sing, hear a sermon challenging us to genuine commitment, and then we go out into the night – the first hours of the New Year – with great determination to make it so. And with God’s help it can be so.

Remember the Apostle Paul’s words: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Remember Jesus’ words, “Go into all the world . . . and I will be with you.” A New Year with all of the opportunities it offers to us and the promise of God to be with us – the new year can be a great year!

The Holiday Trilogy ..

The arrangement of our calendar is so symbolic – Thanksgiving followed almost immediately by Christmas followed immediately by the New Year.

We can thank God for all the blessings that have been ours during the year – Thanksgiving – and then be reminded of the great hope, love, and grace of God seen in Jesus – Christmas – with its reminder that a new beginning is possible.

To the fishermen he said, “Come follow me.” To Zaccheaus, “Come down, I must abide at thy house today.” To Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.”

Each word of the Savior is replete with hopeful possibilities. “Come follow me – you can, you know!” “I must abide at thy house – and I can be a part of your life from this time on, you know.” “You must be born again – you can, you know, start all over again.”

Christmas with all of its promises of redemption, salvation, love, grace, hope, and peace.

The possibility of a new beginning, a new start, a new birth. Someone wrote words like this many years ago (I saw these words first when a college student):

The New Year lies before us, like a field of freshly fallen snow, be careful where you walk, for every step will show.

Years before Johnny Carson took over the Tonight Show, I remember seeing Jack Paar (this really dates me!) interview Bishop Fulton Sheen during the Christmas season.

Bishop Sheen talked eloquently, as he could do so well, about the meaning of Christmas, the coming of Jesus, the “pivotal point” of history – B.C. – A.D.

He said the great thing about the Christmas message was that “no matter what your past has been, you can start over again; God has made it possible in the sending of His Son to save us from our sins.” That really is the meaning of Christmas!

A New Beginning

There’s something great about being given a new start, a new beginning. I heard a colleague many years ago say about one of our Bible courses at Wingate University, “I hope I learn how to teach that course before I die!”

One of the things I’ve always liked about being a college professor is that very fact – good or bad, this semester is over; we can try again next semester.

From time to time I’ve felt like my colleague and had to confess – “Wow! This course just didn’t get off the ground.

I hope I learn to teach it the way it ought to be taught before I die!” But . . . there is hope. A new school year is about to begin; I’ll get another chance at it. A new start. A new beginning. How great!

In life God loves us and no matter what we’ve been, we can start over. That’s the Christmas message.

That’s the challenge of a New Year. Christ came, lived out his life in our midst, challenged us to follow after him, gave himself at Calvary for our sins, died, and rose again. It’s possible to start all over again. Thank you, God, thank you!

“We Can Face Tomorrow”

A former student, fellow minister, and good friend for a lot of years still writes me from time to time (in more recent times via e-mail). Every message I’ve ever gotten from Buddy has ended with “Because He lives” and he signs his name.

It’s true. It’s true. That is the message we celebrate at this Christmas time, at this New Year’s beginning, and, in fact, every Sunday in worship – because He lives, we too can live!

So . . . where ever we may be in our lives – happy time, sad times, all times – because of God’s love we can truly say and mean every word –


About the Author

G. Byrns Coleman is Professor of Religion and Chair of Department of Religion & Philosophy, Wingate University, Wingate, NC . He is also a member of Wingate Baptist Church .

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