Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019
Christmas and New Year are traditionally times of celebration; a time when we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ our Lord and the beginning of a new year. It is a time to strengthen our relationship with God, the church, friends and family. It is the season to be jolly. Yet, in the midst of this jolly celebration comes the pressures of a commercialized Christmas world.
According to the Money Advice Service, around one million Britons will be using payday loans to cover the cost of Christmas. 18 million people are worried about how to afford the cost of Christmas, while 17 million expect to begin the New Year in debt. A third of consumers will ramp up their credit card to pay for the festivities. The tinsel, gift items, festive offers are in the shops around the country as the commercial countdown to Christmas begins. Yet more than four million people are still paying off the cost of last year’s Christmas debt. Christmas does not have to be so stressful if we put Christ in the centre of all the celebrations. The Christ we celebrate at Christmas came not to put a burden on us but to lift our burdens. He came not to stress us but to set us free from sin, pain, debt, stress, oppression, depression etc. In his first public ministry address in Luke 4:18, Jesus declared “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”. Christmas is about receiving the good news, celebrating the good news and proclaiming the good news that Jesus Christ is born to save the world from sin.
God is the giver of many wonderful new things. We come to him by faith in Christ and he gives us the new birth. Then he gives us a new nature, a new heart, a new life, a new hope, and a new task. In a few days, God is giving us a new year. This means a new start for us. If we have not done so well in 2018, then we have a chance to make resolutions for a new start. Daniel in the Old Testament resolved that he would not defile himself. He was carried into captivity when he was a boy. He served as one of the King’s counsellor. Rather than to disobey God, he vowed not to defile himself. He kept that vow and lived a holy life for seventy years. He vowed to live rightly before God regardless of the cost and God blessed him.
In the New Year, you may resolve to fix things; I encourage to also fix your eyes on Jesus Hebrews 12:2. In this New Year, you may resolve to run a marathon, run on your treadmill run a mile or two to keep fit; I encourage you also to run the race marked out for you. Hebrews 12:1. In the New Year, you may resolve to take a lesson on knitting, take a holiday, take Art classes, I encourage you also to take up your cross and follow Christ. Luke 9:23. In the New Year, may our resolution be, ‘to do all we can for the kingdom’
I wish you all a blessed Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Rev Lansford Penn-Timity.