Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Beginnings

 The beginning of a New Year conjures up for me the image of a new start, a rebooted computer, a right-sizing of clutter on our desks, the balancing of a check-book, a new resolve to do things better.  New beginnings are never successful unless there is a serious ending to that which is old, and some of that is harder to let go of than it would seem.

The prophet Samuel in the Old Testament had labored long with King Saul’s monarchy, but it was heading for a dismal end. Samuel was grieving the fall of this leader and his part in choosing this tall, shy young person from the tribe of Benjamin years ago. In the midst of his grieving comes a word from the Lord.

The Lord often talks to us through grief and times of uncertainty. It is often the place where we finally stop all our noise and listen to God’s voice. Never shun grief and pain because there are clear and compelling messages that need our attention in order to move on in healthy ways.

God says to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil, and go.  I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” (I Samuel 16:1)

The beginning of a new, godly monarchy begins with God commanding Samuel to put away his grief over the old one. May it be true for us as well.

As you ponder the new things you will do in this New Year be sure to intentionally deal with any residual grief of the old.  Pray through this pain. Seek to reconcile with those you have wronged, and forgive those who have wronged you. You may even choose to seek professional counseling.  Until the old thing is healed it will continue to creep into your “new” thing.

This thought is heralded well in one of our beloved hymns (UM Hymnal, #383) penned by Brian Wren:

This is a day of new beginnings,
Time to remember and move on.
Time to believe what love is bringing,
Laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus
Love’s mighty Spirit now as then
Can make for us a world of difference 
As faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
Step from the past and leave behind
Our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
Seeking new paths and sure to find.

Christ is alive and goes before us
To show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings
Our God is making all things new

May the “Spirit’s daring” bring you a fresh start in 2017, giving you the courage to deal with past pain and then to move on!

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