Summary: A New Year’s sermon encourageing people to cling to the new life that is our’s through a relationship with Christ.

Now that Christmas has passed us by, there are many people who are prepared to go back to the way that things were a few weeks ago before the Holiday season forced its way into our lives making our schedules very very hectic. But, the encouragement for us comes from scripture today to each of us to keep Christmas foremost in our minds even though the holiday itself has gone. There are those people who look at Christmas as merely a secular holiday and for

them, now that the presents have all been unwrapped and

the unwanted or wrong sized things have been returned to the department stores the holiday is truly over. However, for us as Christians the holiday hopefully reminded us of the fact that God has drawn near to us and we should not lose the spirit of Christmas even though we are turning another page on the calendar in a couple of days.

In fact, we should all be reminded that the real gift of Christmas is the ability to start all over with a new page in the calendar of our lives. Many scholars do not believe that Jesus was born at this time of year at all and they are probably right. But, whether or not the time of the year is the actual time of Christ’s birth, it is a good time for us to

remember the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. About the time that the young Jesus was taken to the temple and dedicated to God, we are celebrating the renewal of the calendar in our own lives. It is more than appropriate that we should look to the new year as the time when God makes all things new in our lives because the birth of Christ is what made it possible for us to make all things new.

After 12 months of carrying my palm pilot around in my pocket it can be rather cluttered with dates, appointments, notes and a host of other markings, If I were to look back at my calendar from the past twelve months there are many things recorded there that I would not even remember the meaning of. I would not know what the reason for their placement was and I certainly would not remember the appointment that I made the note for. Then there are those things that I remember quite well. There are those things that were truly transformational and life changing... this is particularly true for me this past year over many others. And then there are those things that fall somewhere in between on this "spectrum of memorability."

In any case the point that we should take for ourselves

as we enter this new year is that God, who made us and calls us his own, became flesh and entered our realm so that you and I could taste salvation. I know you have heard this from me, perhaps more than you care to over the past few weeks, but I still think that it bears repeating. Jesus came so that salvation would be possible... This was not an afterthought, but rather this was the plan from the beginning even before

Christ came to earth. That is the one thing that many people do not even realize or that we forget and could use an occasional reminder.

Our scripture for today was written by the prophet Isaiah at a time in Israel’s history when the people had strayed from the plan of God. While this word was prophetic in telling what would soon take place, it was also historical, recording the statements of fact that could be followed through the history of the people of Israel. The same thing is true for us today even if we read these words without knowledge of the

history of Israel.

When we read Isaiah’s words recounting the gracious and praise-worthy deeds of the Lord. He might have been referring to the leading of the Children of Israel through the wilderness by a pillar of fire and a column of smoke. We today can read these words and tell of the times in our lives that Christ has provided comfort through affliction, healing from illness, or certainly salvation from our sins. Then, in verse 9 of our passage Isaiah writes these words: “It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” How familiar this is to us today it is not just an angel or a messenger who saves us, but the very presence of God himself, through Jesus Christ. that demonstrates the love of God to the people of the world that would call themselves children of God.

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