EDITORIAL: New beginnings

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

“And he that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And he said unto me, ‘Write: for these words are true and faithful.’ -
Revelation 21:1-5

At almost the very end of the Bible, John emphasizes that the Christ is “making everything new.”
Making everything new – what a longing of the human heart! What an answer to creation's problems!

Daily, our own human failings present us with the need for a fresh start.

Whether it’s being caught in a “little white lie” or recognizing a self-destructive habit or seeing the damage we have collectively wrought on our planetary home, most of us wish at times for a world we haven't yet fouled with our misdeeds.

How much deeper the longing is when our actions have damaged others directly – the scarring words, the broken relationships, even those actions, for a few, that have maimed or killed another human.

Much of Christianity uses baptism or confession to highlight the believer’s repentance from sins – those deeds, thoughts and actions that dishonor God and harm people. Most other religions offer corresponding symbolism such Judaism’s Day of Atonement to Islam's hajj to certain chants of Buddhism.

In the Western world, New Year’s Day is hardly a religious holiday, but even to the nonbeliever it is an occasion for new beginnings. The fresh calendar offers an invitation to see things in a new light, to go a better direction, to take new actions that improve lives and, for the believer, honor God.

Each year, so many of us resolve to lose weight or quit smoking that we provide grist for comedians.

Others resolve to read scripture regularly, to give up gossip, to renew neglected friendships, to straighten up our finances, to start a new educational/professional direction or to make any number of other changes for the better.

An undefiled year entices us each Jan. 1, but as inviting as it is, if human experience holds true, many of our resolutions will be in shambles by Groundhog Day.

The prophet Jeremiah, among many other scripture writers, offers comforting reassurances that our opportunity for renewal is not limited to once a year.

“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).