“What’s next? What’s new?” With the conclusion of an old year and the beginning of a New Year, the media make big money keeping us up-to-date on what’s new. We search the internet to find out what new things are out there. Some new things are worth celebrating: maybe a new cure for cancer, a new car, a new outfit. Some new things we’re a little more wary of: a new acquaintance, a new teacher, a new boss. Some new things are no celebration at all: a new pain somewhere, a new bill we weren’t expecting. What’s next? What’s new?
Most everybody approaches the new year as something worth celebrating. Perhaps we know our New Year’s resolutions are going to make us into that kind of person we’ve always wanted to be. Or perhaps we’re just glad we made it this far! We know that the new year could bring new challenges, new dangers, new sadness, new tragedy – not things to celebrate — but to pray about. And that’s one good reason to begin the new year right here, right where we are now: asking for God’s blessing on whatever is new, whatever the New Year has to bring us.
So what’s next? What’s new? God’s blessing is not something we can always see. The shepherd’s in the Gospel saw angels and the baby, Jesus. The people of Israel saw miracles after Jesus had grown up. The Apostles saw Jesus after he had risen from the dead. We have seen another year pass. We have Jesus’ word to depend on for the new year: “I will be with you always.” And that Word is flesh, “This is my body given up for you.”
When the shepherds saw Jesus he probably looked like most any other baby. They had only the word of the angels to believe he was special. Our host at the altar doesn’t look like anything exceptional, either, but Jesus’ word tells us it is. It is He, who is with us, as we make our journey into a new year. This is our guarantee we have God’s blessing on us as we move on.
What’s next? What’s new? Let’s see!
Rev. Mark Zacker