Sermons

Summary: A reflection on new beginnings that a New Year brings with a focus on the Ultimate Beginning -- God -- who can give us the ultimate new beginning.

Happy New Year

Or

Let’s Begin Again

• Almost forgotten that it’s a new year.

o Still appropriate to wish you a Happy New Year?

o Has the New Year been happy for you?

o Have you kept/broken your New Year’s resolutions?

• Why did we look forward to the end of the year – apart from Christmas holidays, bonuses, time with the family, break from work?

• The opportunity for a new beginning

o Reflection on the past

 Recession

 Relationships

o Time for renewal – for NEW BEGINNINGS

Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland 1832 – 1898

• “Begin at the beginning . . . and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Robert Browning – Life in a Love 1855:

• “To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall,

And baffled, get up and begin again.”

Lao-tzu – The Way of Lao-tzu c. 604 –c. 531 B.C.

• “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Beginnings: God knew that we needed new beginnings. The human spirit was created with the capacity for renewal – the need for renewal. Thus in creation, while Adam and Eve would not need rest, God still created the cycle of an evening and a morning – a new day every 24 hours; an opportunity for new beginnings – to start over again; to improve on what had been done before; to forget the past and move on.

And then He created the cycle of 7 days in which we would cease from work; from self-effort; from focusing on our accomplishments; from chasing after the wind – to rest and recognize that we owe our existence to Someone outside of ourselves.

The Sabbath – the weekly cycle in which we acknowledge our creatureliness; that we owe our existence to God; that He is the potter and we are the clay; that all we have and all that we do are nothing without God; that we refocus and recognize that all we have accomplished is straw – like a candle in the wind. It is a time that we come and acknowledge God as the Creator of this universe – but more importantly – that He is the Lord of our lives.

And so we have the circles and cycles of life – the ever-recurring cycle of new days; new weeks; new years; birthdays and anniversaries – the opportunities for new beginnings.

A. The Ultimate “Beginning”

The Bible talks about a beginning – a beginning that was not part of a cycle and that would never become part of a cycle. A beginning that can be described as The Ultimate Beginning.

Robert Browning, in the earlier quotation, talks about getting up and beginning again. And this “new beginning”, as with all our new years, implies that there was something that preceded the new beginning. So, in fact, the new beginning is not a beginning after all – simply a continuation in a different manner – or sometimes even in the same manner.

But scripture talks of an ultimate beginning – a beginning with nothing preceding it. Our human minds find it difficult to comprehend this. Everything new that we are engaged in is not really new:

o A new car – made of previously manufactured articles and material. So it’s not really new?

o New shoes, new hairstyle, new house – a case of different, changed, modified – but not really new.

o New Baby? – Dependent on a mother and a father. A new life but a beginning dependent on that which existed before.

o New husband? New wife? . . .

o Even a new day – one before that. A new year – one before this one; and before that one, etc., etc.

But Scripture talks of an Ultimate Beginning: John 1:1 ff.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. . .14. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A reminder of Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Ultimate Beginning.

Even the theory of evolution is dependent on a beginning

– the Big Bang theory – something had to be present to cause the Big Bang;

– the origin of the species – each species had to evolve from a previously existing form of life;

– the geological column – each layer is built on a previous layer till you get to the original layer – which had to have a source; a beginning.

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