January 2022 Newsletter
“New year, New you.” The phrase has been around for some time, coming up around the turn of
the year. It even showed up in a children’s book I was reading to Gus. The new year and weeks leading up to are filled with ideal commercials of self improvement and betterment. Leaving behind the regrets of the past year, or even further back, vowing and resolving that this year will be different. More resolute, a stronger will, a better plan, whatever it takes to leave the bad habit, the old, the past itself, or at least our past self.
And while there are successes out there to speak of, and everyone has different strengths of wills, or even desires to change or resolve things; the reality is failure in resolutions and just in life in general is to be expected regardless of how unwelcome it may be. Such is life right? As Christians we are well acquainted with failure. We know our failures all too well when they stare us in the face as our sins. The errant thought, word, or deed that goes against God’s will and seeks to separate us from Him eternally. Something more than just failing to walk, run, or exercise; deeper in our soul than calories consumed or pounds gained, more sleep gotten, more books read, less TV or phone time. Or, in the case of the character of Gus’s book from the start: a happier, less grumpy
disposition. All the self-betterment in the world though doesn’t truly bring us closer to God, or bring us salvation, as Isaiah reminds us that all “our righteous deeds are but filthy rags.”
While the words of Christ in Revelation 21:5 may seem far off when He says, “Behold, I am
making all things new,” the reality is that we have already been made new in the waters of Holy
Baptism, as the apostle Paul reminds us of our connection to Christ’s death and resurrection in Romans 6 and therefore also our deadness to sin, leading to being truly alive in Christ Jesus which shares a strong connection to our new life depicted in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, behold, the new has come.” New life in Christ having been granted to us in Holy Baptism ought to be synonymous with eternal life, meaning that the eternal life promised to us by our Lord is a present possession even if we still toil in this earthly pilgrimage.
While this life now is indeed imperfect and plagued regularly by imperfections. On a closing
note, back to that book mentioned earlier, even it mirrors our lives. The main character woken to the new year by a friend, but because he is woken early form his sleep, he blows his stack thus negating his great plan to be a “new” him in the new year. Sin clings closely to us and for all our best efforts we still regularly fail, but Luther gives council in His words about Baptism in the fourth part where he reminds that Baptismal New Life finds in practice in the daily contrition and sorrow of sin as it is drowned and dies and a new man emerges to life for Christ.
A “new me” is not something I achieve or strive for at the turn of the calendar year, but rather is
something God creates and enacts in me and you in the waters of Holy Baptism which His Spirit causes us to strive to live in daily. Rather than waiting for a reason to try to reinvent or revitalize ourselves, God both convicts us in the Word by His Law and provides us the promise of His Gospel work in Christ to save us from our sin and give us grace and strength to thank, praise, serve and obey Him. As we enter into this new year not always knowing where or to what lengths God will lead us, it is eternally assuring to know that God has already granted us new eternal life in Christ and will continue to walk beside us in all things.
God’s Blessings on you New Year,