Have you ever wondered why two major holidays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, are only one week apart? I think most historians and Bible scholars would agree Jesus was not born in December, let alone the 25th. Think for a moment; one major holiday, for which much preparation is required, comes and goes only to be followed one week later by another major holiday which cultures around the world spend multiplied millions of dollars preparing for. Is this significant? I believe it is.
Each of these celebrated days speaks of new beginnings. At Christmas time, many celebrate the giving of the Son of God, who was born, lived and later died on the cross to pay the ransom for our lives. The New Year brings with it a new calendar, new seasons; the cold winter soon ends with spring ready to unfold.
Christmas represents many things to many people. For me, Christmas speaks of all the reasons above, but there is also that tangible sense of awe and wonder filling the air, that special peace that seems to hover over all of us; the idea that people really are good; that God is somehow nearer to us all. Unfortunately for many, Christmas is a reminder of hard times; of a tragedy, or loss of a loved one, the deep personal loss of a relationship or perhaps a home.
I believe it is especially for times like these that Jesus came – to redeem our souls, yes, but also to redeem our lives and to give us hope – to give us each a new beginning. The Bible says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV). Jesus told His followers later in this same gospel, “In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” (John 16:33, MSG). Jesus made no allusions, follow Him or not, there will be challenges, struggles and difficulties. There is an enemy hellbent on our destruction, discouragement and he will stop at nothing to rob us of our joy and peace if he can. But notice the final portion of John 10:10. The Amplified Version says it this way: “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
You see, at whatever point in the spectrum you find yourself, we have a God who desires us to have a new beginning. “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NLT). For the new year, I encourage you to have hope. You have a Godgiven right to a new beginning. God loves you and has given you dominion (Gen. 1:26-28); to overcome and to never to be overcome.
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Rob Granger is Senior Pastor of Faith Harbor Church, a non-denominational church that meets at 10 a.m. Sundays in the Escondido Columbus Hall, 515 W. Valley Parkway. He and his wife, Becky who co-pastors with him, have three sons, two of whom are students at San Pasqual High School. Rob is active in local community activities, including as a member of the Rotary Club of Escondido.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Times-Advocate.