Summary: Going into a new year, God wants to give us the gift of a clean slate, a fresh beginning.
I’ve got to admit something; I started working on this message the week before Christmas, and I’ve got to tell you something: working on a message for the week after Christmas the week before Christmas is no easy task.
Sitting at my desk, in front of my computer, Bibles at the ready, It’s hard not to focus on the yule-tide jollies. It certainly didn’t help having a playlist of Christmas carols playing and twinkling lights aglow.
But now, Christmas is over. A forest of wrapping paper has been torn through and tons of presents have been exchanged. Christmas the day has passed, but the Spirit of that day does not have to end. The significance of the day continues throughout the year.
So now, as many look down what feels like the barrel of a New Year, we look within ourselves to make a “New Year’s Resolution”. We determine to lose weight, determine to kick that bad habit, determine to take up a new hobby, a new skill, a new discipline.
There’s something refreshing about a new year. The last year has been wrought with our share of failures, heartaches, and disappointments, but a new year gives us the sense of a clean slate. A new start. A fresh beginning. The old year has passed away and a new year has come with all its potential, all its excitement, and all its possibilities.
Deep down inside, we all crave what a new year seems to give us: a clean slate. We desire deep down inside to be given a fresh start. Whether it’s at home, at school, at work, or even at Church, many of us desire a fresh beginning.
This morning, it’s fitting that we gather here this morning on the eve of a new year because we have an answer. The world each year hopes that January 1st will give them a clean slate, a new start, but year in and year out, they are disappointed. But this morning, we have been given an amazing gift, we have been given an incredible opportunity. We can have a clean slate of our own.
Turn with me, if you would, to Paul’s second letter to the Church in Corinth, chapter 5. 2 Corinthians 5, starting in verse 17. We’ll ready through to the end of the chapter.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We have been given the amazing opportunity to have our slates wiped clean through our reconciliation with Jesus. Mankind has been living in a state of separation from God since the garden. This is who we are as the old creation: we are sinners: selfish, self-centered, destructive, evil.
But we have been given the amazing opportunity of reconciliation, of a reunion with Him. Paul is telling us that when we enter into a relationship with Christ, we are no longer who we were before, our slates have been wiped clean and we are made new. Note verse 19, that God is “not counting men’s sins against them”.
In C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four children enter the magical land of Narnia through, you guessed it, a wardrobe and embark on all kinds of adventures. While Lucy, Susan and Peter willingly search for and assist Aslan, their brother Edmund has a different experience.
Edmund meets the “Queen” of Narnia, or as she is known to Narnians: the White Witch. She pampers Edmund, feeding him sweets and treating him like a prince. She makes promises of grandeur to him in hopes that he will betray his family and deliver them to her.
Edmund agrees to do the Witch’s bidding and betrays Aslan and his family. But the Queen doesn’t live up to her promises and Edmund finally saw her for who she really was. To her, though, it was too late, he had pledged his allegiance to her. Aslan’s army, however, rescues Edmund from the Witch and in a moving scene, forgives him in front of his brothers and sisters, saying, “Here is your brother, and there is no need to talk to him about what is past.” Even further than this, Aslan offers his life in place of Edmunds to the White Witch.