NEW YEAR’S SUNDAY, Jan. 13, 2019
SERMON: New Beginnings/Hidden Treasures
It is the start of a new year – which always offers new beginnings. Some we recognize immediately, and some are in the distant future, on another day in another month in this new year 2019. We see evidence of a brand-new beginning right here in our sanctuary this morning – the acquisition and installation of our new pipe organ from Emmanuel United Church in Sebringville. And what a wonderful beginning for worship at Parkview to start off this new year. This is an incredible gift, freely given, with love and hope. It is a treasure. In anticipation, we look forward to hearing the beautiful sounds which will come from this organ, this musical instrument for which it was built. How blessed we are to acquire it! To cherish it! To honour it! It was built for church worship, to praise God in service to God. And we are able to continue its life – to give this organ new beginnings here at Parkview! It is always the best scenario when newness brings happiness and fulfilment, and beginnings which bring goodwill and blessing.
“Behold, I make all things new,” says God in Rev. 21:5, and if it comes from God, it is good.
Have you heard the recipe for a happy new year?
Take 12 fine, full-grown months – they are brand-new and spanking clean! Make sure they are free of any specks of rancor or bitterness, pettiness or hate, as this will affect their flavour. Cut each month into 30 or 31 equal parts, each part one day. This twelve-month batch will keep just one year.
Into each day, prepare a daily batch with:
– 12 parts faith – faith in goodness (in God, your loved ones, family, your friends)
– 11 parts patience
– 10 parts kindness
– 9 parts courage
– 8 parts prayer
– 7 parts hope
– 6 parts work
– 5 parts rest
– 4 parts integrity
– 3 parts forgiveness
– 2 parts gentleness
– 1 part humility
Add a heaping cupful of good humour, a tablespoon of good spirits, a dash of fun, a sprinkling of play, and pour over the whole batch a liberal amount of love. Cook thoroughly in the unquenchable fires of enthusiasm and encouragement, garnish with a few smiles, and add a sprig of joy. Serve with cheerfulness, savour its aroma, and taste with enjoyment, confident that this recipe for a Happy New Year never fails.
What a wonderful new year beginning with a recipe which never fails! And I’ve had a few dillies, but mainly because I was experimenting and not following the recipe. But this new year recipe if we follow it exactly, will always smell delicious and taste so good! Godly new beginnings are always meant to nourish us, strengthen us, benefit us, and bless us.
And like new beginnings which some are readily seen and some hidden in the future, it’s the same with treasure – some is readily seen and recognized (our organ is a treasure), and yet some treasure is still hidden from us, not yet obtained. God gave us a new beginning with Jesus, the most wonderful treasure we could ever acquire. And yet, right from the start, not everyone recognized the treasure of Jesus. The angels came to the shepherds in the Bethlehem fields, not to any town or city, not to the priests in the temple, not to the mayor, or people of distinction, not to King Herod in Jerusalem. The angelic announcement of Jesus’ birth was made to only a very few shepherds. But they spread the word after they saw the Christ Child in the manger – we’re told in Luke 2: “When they [shepherds] had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” The news of Jesus spread because the shepherds would always tell their story. The wise men saw Jesus and recognized this Godly-given treasure – they bowed and worshipped him – and presented their treasures fit for a King. And returning to their homelands far away in other countries, the wise men would spread the news of Jesus, the divine baby King they had seen, because the wise men would always tell their story.
In our scripture reading this morning, Simeon recognizes the treasure of Jesus. He had been promised that he would see God’s Messiah before he died, and when Mary and Joseph came into the temple with the young Jesus, Simeon takes the child in his arms, full of joy, giving God praise, saying: “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.”
Do we recognize the new beginnings and treasure of Jesus? The word “new” means having never existed, different from that which is previous. “See, I am doing a new thing!” says God, “Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”(Is. 43:19).”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”(2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus is our treasure – Immanuel, God with us – and he offers us new beginnings with him. It is a Godly-given relationship with the divine. It is freely given. The message of the angels has come to us. God’s peace and goodwill has come to us in Jesus, who asks us to invite him in, and make all things new by making you and me new! If you and I will open our lives and our hearts to the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, we can have a really new life. Jesus says: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” Jer. 29: 13. Jesus says that he knocks at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to invite him in: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dwell with them and they with me,” Rev. 3: 20.
Will we ask him in? He’s waiting. The Christ Child, God’s gift to the world, is waiting for us to come to him, like the shepherds to the manger and the wise men worshiping, Jesus wants to give us newness of life, new hopes, new goals, new adventures, new beginnings. It is not too late. It is the start of a new year. Ask him to come into your life, to change your life, to give you the newness he offers, and he will.
Thanks be to God for this treasure. Amen.