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You crown the year with your bounty...

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

Psalm 65:11

There is something that everyone enjoys about the start of a new year. Perhaps the fact is that we all long for a new start. This world is filled with the effects of sin that make us long for the new heaven and the new earth and man is constantly hoping to start over and build Eden back, but better. This past year of living in our bubbles and behind our masks due to Covid-19 makes us long for a new year free from these constraints and the many scars, physical and mental, that have been left. In our personal life perhaps, we would like a new start in a relationship marred by our sinful words or actions. In our vocations we often look to push that restart and attack our tasks at a different angle. Or we might be looking at a restored relationship with God Himself, a relationship that has been left cold or damaged by our sin. The new birth of the babe in Bethlehem and the close of a physical calendar year stamp NEW all over the days ahead. Both find the new beginning in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection gives us that fresh start of a life in the new Adam, grace of God displayed in the forgiveness of sins, and the promise of His eternal benediction.

In Jesus we are able to recognize, amid the brokenness, the ever present grace and presence of Christ. In Jesus we sing:

Now greet the swiftly changing year

With joy and penitence sincere

Rejoice, Rejoice with thanks embrace another year of grace.

Coming to God in Christ with a repentant heart we are assured of another year of grace. All that happens is of God’s blessing and design. The so-called good and the perceived suffering are given out of grace. All things are the hands of God leading us to the cross of Jesus and finally the NEW day of our entrance into the heavenly realm.

We live our days in Jesus following the confident pattern of Luther’s daily prayers. Each night going to bed confessing our sins, knowing we are forgiven for our past sins and failures, and then letting our head hit the pillow without a care in the world because we are in the gracious and kind flock of God’s care.

It also means that we start each new day, week, and yes, even year, mouthing the words of the morning prayer:

I thank You my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that you have kept me this night (last year) from all harm and danger; and I pray that you would keep me this day (year) also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. For into your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen

What a way to begin a new year, in the care of Jesus. God has been with us in the past, is with us today, and as Jesus promises, will be with us until the end of the age. It is that confidence in the promises of God that gives us the joy of walking into each new day, or year as Luther tells us following the morning prayer, with joy singing a song like that of the 10 commandments.

2021 - ANOTHER Year of Grace indeed. We walk ahead, forgiven in Jesus, sure of God’s love and care, strengthened by His Spirit, and filled with a confident hope that never fades away waiting for us. Rejoice, rejoice.

Pastor Oster.

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