The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us there is no such thing as a new thing (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11).
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”?
It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there be any remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them. The writer of Ecclesiastes was reflecting on the brief transitory nature of this earthly existence. Yet, I believe that a New Year holds lots of possibilities and lots of opportunities. The way many people mark a new year is by making New Year’s resolutions.
Do you think it odd that most if not all New Year’s resolutions deal with change? Yet, when asked what most folks like least -It is change? So, why is it when we arrive upon a New Year with a New Beginning we seek to change ingrained patterns of behavior and detrimental habits…Knowing that by January 25, most of the resolutions will have been forgotten or abandoned to the old ways? The ways that are comfortable and known, the ways that yield the same results we have always gotten. Do we really want to change and improve or will we simply settle for what we’ve always done.
We want to improve, but we don’t want to change to get the improvement. Someone has said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and time again and expecting a different result. The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr is a good place to begin seeking change in the New Year. “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”
On one level, the prayer is about learning to accept external circumstances that we cannot change. But on a deeper level, the prayer points to a fact about our inner life: We cannot directly control our feelings. However, we can influence our feelings through two other factors we can control — our thinking and our actions. Doing this moves us on to another quality described in the Serenity Prayer: courage.
Ultimately courage is about this willingness and capacity to choose. And even in the most arduous circumstances, two choices are almost always available to us: where to place our attention and what action to take next.
It is God’s desire to see us use the time, talent and resources He has given us to Glorify Him. In this New Year we have the opportunity to begin anew. Rather than make a list of resolutions why don’t you join me in being resolute in following God’s Lead every day?
I invite you to join me in praying this prayer… Dear God, let your will for me be known. Use me, oh God, as your creation. When a kind word needs to be spoken, use my voice. When a load needs to be lifted, use my back. When a hug needs to be given, use my arms. When a journey needs to be taken, use my feet. When a message needs to be delivered, use my mind. When a friend needs to be loved, use my heart. In all things, in all ways, use me God, as your instrument of love, faith, peace and tranquility. AMEN
I hope you’ll resolve to be here for worship, fellowship and study as we begin a New Year with new opportunities and new possibilities!