Wednesday, January 11, 2012

HOPE FOR TODAY: Gifts for the New Year

Have you ever eaten 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day? How about having eaten some black-eyed peas or set off fireworks? The people of the United States, Japan, Scotland, Spain and other nations have their unique traditions for bringing in the New Year which they hope will bring them good luck in the future.

The start of New Year’s celebrations date back to around 4,000 years ago, during the ancient Babylonian era. From those days to modern times there has always been a common theme among New Year’s traditions – “good-bye to the old and good luck in the new”.

The origin of the month of January embodies this. The name evolves from Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings. He had two faces; one looked back to the old and the other to the future. The Roman people would then celebrate before Janus, wishing they would receive good luck from him in the New Year.

No doubt, in all of our lives there was a mixture of good and bad in 2011. Like the Japanese do, maybe we would like to attend a “Forget-the-year” party and bid farewell to the difficult memories of last year. As you enter 2012 what are you relying on to bring a new and better year?

While researching for this column, my mind raced to a quote from the Bible I have read many times, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). This ties in perfectly with the New Year!

The old can pass away and the new can come through gifts from the God of heaven. First, the gift of forgiveness can totally wash clean the sins of the past and bring healing to the wounds of yesterday. Secondly, the gift of eternal life can instantaneously create a new heart and mind that will breed new attitudes, desires and a future filled with an adventurous mission from God. These gifts originate from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s only Son. He gave His life that we might have new life.

Begin this New Year by turning your life to Jesus Christ. Humble yourself before God and call upon Him. Say good-bye to your old life and receive the gift God has for you in Christ. May Jesus be your hope for today and the New Year.