Summary: Our God is a God of New beginnings, and he never gets tired of providing mankind with new beginnings
New Beginnings – A New Year message for 2010
Like other Christian festivals, the celebration of New Years Day in the West started before the church came into existence.
At first, the Romans celebrated the beginning of the new year on March 1, not January 1. Julius Caesar instituted New Year’s Day on January 1 to honor Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. The custom of "New Years resolutions" began in this earliest period, as the Romans made resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others.
When Rome took on Christianity as its official faith, the Christians kept New Years Day. Only, they traded the vaguely moral emphasis for a practice of fasting and prayer aimed at living the New Year in the New Life of Christ. Soon, however, the new year celebration reverted to March 1, and this early emphasis on spiritual things dissolved.
Or rather, it shifted to a new celebration on January 1. Beginning in the middle of the sixth century, parts of the church began to set aside January 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision, commemorating Jesus’ circumcision. As with other Jewish boy babies, Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth (Luke 2:21, "when eight days were accomplished").
But the pagans had apparently spoiled January 1 for many Christians: the Roman church did not accept this feast day until the 11th century.
It was finally in 1752, when Britain and its possessions adopted the Gregorian calendar, that January 1 again came to be recognized and celebrated as the first day of the year.
Some Christians, however, still hesitated to celebrate the day. The Puritans, for example, were leery of the associations of January 1 with the pagan god Janus—they preferred not even to say the name of the month, referring to it rather as "First Month." And of course they stood against the dissipations usually indulged during the celebration.
Instead, the Puritans urged their young people, especially, to skip the revelry and meditate on the year past and the year to come. Always ready to introspect—in famously excruciating detail—they adopted again the old custom of making resolutions. They vowed to take more care against their besetting sins, make better use of their talents and other divine gifts, and treat others with Christian charity.
Today, some Christians may be inclined to follow the Puritans’ lead, at least absenting themselves from the festivities: January 1st has clearly continued to be a day dedicated more to godless indulgence than to meditative fasting. But many have also seen, as the Puritans did, a divine opportunity in the longstanding practice of making resolutions.
In fact, this practice even harmonizes with the Feast Day: circumcision is a symbol of sanctification—that is, the "setting aside" of persons and things for God’s purposes.
With or without such historical understandings, many of us may have taken New Years Eve and New Years Day as God-given opportunities. We have taken at least a few minutes to reflect, pray, and dedicate ourselves anew to our Lord—whether at a "Watch Night Service" or in private.
(The historical facts given above have been taken from an article by Chris Armstrong , Christianity Today Magazine, Dec 2003)
We have chosen to be in the Church, and God has directed me to choose the theme of “New Beginnings” for tonight. There are many new beginnings in the Bible. We will look at a few of them and see the significance of it in our lives, as we go around. I have chosen just seven new beginnings to look at tonight. Seven is a great number in Bible and it represents perfection.
I would like us to take a few minutes to think about any new beginning that we have had in our lives during 2009. Some of us might have many. Please try and choose one. Some of us might find this exercise difficult. Do not worry about the magnitude of it’s significance. If it is a new beginning that you remember, that is enough. Make a note of it if you wish to. Also each of you, please choose a chorus or a Hymn that has touched you and you would like to be sung tonight.
We will now go round, first sharing a new beginning from our lives and then reading about one new beginning from the Bible. We will then sing a Hymn or Chorus, chosen by the person who shared. One of us will briefly pray for the person who shared and then look into the significance of that particular new beginning in our lives.
New Beginning 1: The Creation: Genesis 1: 26-31
As Pastor Vasu would have said, the Triune God were “having a ball” creating the universe, and all the living creatures, having fun and fellowship with each other, when they decided to create man in “their” image. Vs 27 repeats the fact that Man and Woman were created in His image. Knowing that we are created in God’s image provides our basis for self worth. Human worth is not based on our possessions, achievements, physical attractiveness, or public acclaim. It is based on God’s image. Thus every time we feel low self worth we are actually downgrading our creator. Knowing that you are a person of worth helps us to love God, know him personally, and make a valuable contribution to those around you. We do have the ability to reflect his character in us, through love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness.